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Invasive Species in a Globalized WorldEcological, Social, and Legal Perspectives on Policy$
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Reuben P. Keller, Marc W. Cadotte, and Glenn Sandiford

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226166049

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226166216.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

A Tale of Two Squirrels:

A Tale of Two Squirrels:

A British Case Study of the Sociocultural Dimensions of Debates over Invasive Species

(p.44) Chapter Three A Tale of Two Squirrels
Invasive Species in a Globalized World

Peter Coates

University of Chicago Press

Historical studies of invasive species traditionally focus on European biota in North America. Yet the lesser known and less extensively studied transfer of American species to Europe also created significant ecological and economic problems. The cultural impact has also been substantial as questions of belonging and authenticity enter the debate. This historical case study of the gray squirrel in Britain has three objectives: to examine the relationship between the gray squirrel’s success and the decline of the native red squirrel; to investigate efforts to control this ‘pest’ species for economic reasons and for biodiversity’s sake; and to explore the role of cultural considerations (specifically anti-Americanism) in shaping British attitudes to the ‘American’ gray squirrel. The relationship between the gray squirrel’s expanding population in Britain and the fall in red squirrel numbers is more complex than the received wisdom suggests. The gray squirrel has served as a scapegoat for the declining fortunes of a creature that is not just a different squirrel but a national faunal emblem. This tale of two squirrels highlights the powerful role of cultural considerations in shaping attitudes to invasive species and underlines how they complicate the decision-making environment.

Keywords:   Great Britain, red squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus, gray squirrel, invasive species, anti-Americanism

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