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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 August, 2004, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
Nut ban move to crack plant pests
Grey squirrel
Grey squirrels are apparently 'wreaking havoc'
One of Britain's oldest botanic gardens has banned the sale of peanuts in an attempt to deter grey squirrels.

Bosses at Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Gardens said they were "fed up" with the havoc wreaked by the squirrels to some of its 15,000 plants.

The move was also made amid fears the snacks could be picked up and eaten by children with allergies.

Management said the public would still be allowed to bring in their own peanuts for the squirrels.

Alan Bennell, the garden's deputy director of public programmes, said: "What we have here is wonderfully skilled horticulturists attempting to nurture one of the most exquisitely tailored botanic gardens in the world.

'Nasty rodent'

"Then along comes the greedy American grey squirrel with its funny foreign habits, namely, it likes eating peanuts, and creates substantial damage to plants.

"This nasty, aggressive foreign rodent has also ousted our beautiful native red squirrel from the gardens, not to mention throughout much of Britain."

Mr Bennell said that it was time for "draconian measures" and so the ban on selling peanuts was introduced.

He also said that the possible health risk to youngsters with allergies was another concern that led to the peanut sales ban.

Some 75% of the UK's 160,000 red squirrels live in Scotland and the species is under threat since the introduction of the American grey a century ago, whose population has swelled to three million, said Scottish Natural Heritage.




SEE ALSO:
Virus threatens UK's red squirrels
07 Mar 03  |  Science/Nature
Refuge offers red squirrels hope
03 Feb 04  |  Science/Nature
Squirrel survival plea
29 May 03  |  Scotland


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