You wouldn't guess to look at it, but the deceptively adorable gray squirrel could be the most loathed animal in Britain. Grays, which are native to North America, carry deadly squirrel pox, to which they are immune but native red squirrels are vulnerable. They also eat seven times more food per hectare than their scarlet cousins, crowding out any competitors who manage to survive the squirrel plague. Even Prince Charles has weighed in on their villainy. "The red squirrel is one of the most utterly charming and irresistible of British native mammals," he said in a statement to the Red Squirrel Survival Trust. "I cannot bear the thought that one day they might disappear for ever, driven out by the relentless northern march of the grays." His Highness can take comfort that popular resistance to the fluffy menace is growing. In 2008 the Guardian dubbed gray squirrels "the ultimate ethical meal," noting that butchers could hardly keep up with demand. One game-shop owner speculated that patriotism played a part. "Eat a gray and save a red. That's the message," he said.
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