The English love their native red squirrels. The red squirrel was immortalized by children's author Beatrix Potter in the character of Squirrel Nutkin and is a ubiquitous figure in English arts, literature and lore. But all is not well for the red squirrel. The North American gray squirrel was introduced to England late in the 19th century and the larger, bolder American import has been spreading a deadly virus and claiming the red squirrel's territory. At present, the red squirrels have been forced into the North and it is estimated that their numbers have dwindled to around 150,000 compared with around 2 million grays. This has triggered outrage among many Britons and a wide range of organizations and individuals have stepped forward to take up the red squirrel's cause. This 'red army' has done everything from writing songs and books about the red squirrel's plight to killing and eating the grays. They include government organizations, activists, writers, lords and priests. Their methods vary wildly but all share a common goal: to halt a foreign invasion and to preserve a beloved creature and a national symbol.
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