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Tufty gets tough on tree-dwelling rats

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There is a fine old country saying - often to be heard emanating from old boys leaning thoughtfully on farm gates - that rats are rats, pigeons are rats with wings, and squirrels are rats with good PR.

Indeed, the non-native grey squirrel has long been a source of delight to innocent kiddies who ply the tree vermin with peanuts in London's leafy green spaces while indulgent parents encourage their offspring to get closer to the UK's fauna.

Not for much longer. The next time you see a grey squirrel in one of the Capital's parks it will most likely been running from a bloke with a rifle hell-bent on turning it into Rind-Crusted Fried Squirrel with Molasses Red-Eye Gravy.

That's if Tufty from Death to Grey Squirrels! gets his way. The anonymous resident of Stroud Green in North London has launched a campaign to rid our shores of the imported squirrel menace by any means necessary. Tufty explains:

Have you ever loaded up the bird table with winter treats for your garden birds, only to find it stripped down to the last nut and sunflower seed a few hours later? Did you recently spend all afternoon digging in crocus bulbs, then wake up in the morning to find your garden borders looking like the aftermath of the Battle of the Somme? Did you once put up a bird nesting box and watch a family of tits settle in, only to find that just at hatching time a massacre had taken place?

Yes, we've all been there. Action, it's clear, is urgently required. Tufty asks:

Do squirrels have any natural predators? Yes - you! This site is dedicated to how to become a squirrel predator. What is the best way to make your garden or country estate a grey squirrel-free zone? Let us know. Squirrel recipes, squirrel traps, anti-squirrel measures, individual squirrel deterrents- let's hear them all.

That's the kind of fighting talk we like to hear, although the RSPCA is rather less keen. It told This is Local London: "The RSPCA is opposed to the taking and killing of wild animals, and the infliction of any suffering upon them. To find long-term solutions to pest control, it is important to determine why the animals are attracted to the area such as for food or shelter and wherever possible, remove these attractants."

In short - cut down every tree in Britain and concrete the resulting space over. No, we're with Tufty on this one. He explains: "It's a challenge. I have tried squirrel-resistant feeders, placing wire mesh around the bird table, hanging bird feeders on washing lines, fixing the seed tray to the top of a 12-foot greased pole and drenching everything with commercial anti-squirrel red pepper spray all to no avail. The squirrels are obviously much smarter than we are. They say there is no such thing as a free lunch. Not so for squirrels."

In fact, Tufty should consider himself lucky that his local squirrel population has not yet developed a penchant for crack cocaine - as recently reported from Brixton, South London. When it does, it'll be more than tits and crocuses our vigilante will be fighting to protect as hoards of drug-crazed tree rats turn Stroud Green into a blood-spattered warzone. Time to lock'n'load and pull on the combats, we think. ®

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