Britain's worst invasive mammal is the grey squirrel. Introduced from North America in the nineteenth century, it has out-competed the weaker native red squirrel, and to make things worse carries a virus deadly to the red variety. They can be a nuisance in gardens, where they dig up plants. Fortunately on my allotment there is a fox, who has her own intentions for the grey squirrels, so they stay away. The red variety, however, can nest in conifers, whereas the grey cannot, so conifer plantations are something of a refuge for the native species, and there have been some local culls of grey squirrels in other places, such as conservation areas. The chef. Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, suggests eating them, but this has not caught on.
A larger and more potentially dangerous problem are wild boar, which are found in some parts of the country and are spreading. Some are escapees from farms, but others were deliberately released by animal rights activists who thought that they should be free to roam wild. The only problem is that males can reach 350 pounds weight, they have sharp teeth and tusks and can run faster than a human! The fact that one farmer who kept them used a double steel cage and entered their pen armed with a rifle and a knife, with another man to guard his back, says much about how dangerous these beasts are. So far no human has been attacked, and the boar prefer to hide in woods to avoid us, but some walkers in forests have been chased off by boar, and recently a vet saw a group eating a lamb by a roadside, but whether they had killed it or not is unclear. They have taken to raiding gardens in parts of the South East, and you cannot scare them away. One silly journalist spoke of getting the shotgun. No way, a shotgun merely stings and enrages them to attack. Use a well-aimed and lethal shot with a hunting rifle or not at all. I have never met them, but as I have no hunting rifle, there is nothing I could do about them.
A final, but minor nuisance is the muntjac, diminutive Chinese barking deer the size of a large dog. They never attack anyone, and recently some vandals who killed one aroused outrage. The only problem is that they strip the bark from young trees and so can destroy plantations. Extermination is unnecessary, but some culling might be done to manage numbers. However, there has been talk of re-introducing the once native, but now extinct European lynx. This cat never attacks humans, but has a taste for small deer. Introducing natural predators is a useful strategy that obviates the need for men with guns roaming woodlands, which is a bigger threat to humans than the muntjac is.
In fact, men with guns can be the biggest danger of all. Natural predators don't fire bullets that can go astray and hit someone. Roll on the lynx.