Britons Eat Gray Squirrels to Save Beloved Reds

Curiosity, drive to save indigenous species creates thriving market for critter's meat
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2009 4:49 PM CST
A gray squirrel.   (Wikimedia Commons)
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(Newser) – Squirrel is quickly becoming a part of the British palate, as curiosity—and devotion to a native icon—drives Britons to try something new, the New York Times reports. The trend can be traced in part to the surging population of gray squirrels, a North American import. The grays have been crowding out the nation's beloved red squirrels (think Beatrix Potter), and it is the grays that are ending up as main courses.

A red squirrel advocacy campaign begun in 2006 urged the British to “save a red, eat a gray!” Culls of the gray squirrel population provide a steady supply to butchers and restaurants, who say the meat sells quickly. “Part of the interest is curiosity and novelty,” said one butcher. “It’s a great conversation starter for dinner parties.”