June 29, 2010

The red squirrel and 20 more endangered UK species

The red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) is native to England and was widespread here until about 70 years ago. In the last quarter of the 19th century, the grey squirrel was introduced to various parts of the UK from North America. It has had a devastating impact, replacing the native species whenever the two come into contact and causing significant damage to forestry through its bark-stripping activities. The red squirrel is now confined to the Isle of Wight and the Poole Harbour islands, where there are no grey squirrels, and an area of northern England, mainly in Cumbria and Northumberland, into which grey squirrels are continuing to expand
The Guardian had a slideshow of 21 endangered UK species on their website yesterday, including some of the more cosmopolitan species, like bluefin tuna and the leatherback turtle that get around quite a bit. It's a special set of picutres, illustrated by Sandra Pond, who's work strikes me as very old-fashioned, drawn with the care and love (and anthropomorphism) of illustrators from another time. As I said on Twitter yesterday, it reminds me of the FWS and NPS posters my grandfather tacked to the wall of his hunting cabin in Pennsylvania. Those posters came down long ago, and I wish I had had the sense to as my parents to save them.
Beautiful work.

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