A Tory hereditary peer has encouraged people to eat grey squirrels, after telling the House of Lords they are ‘extremely good to eat’.
Earl Home, the son of former prime minister Sir Alec-Douglas Home, also said making it illegal to feed the small animals should be considered as a way of curbing their numbers.
Speaking at Westminster, Lord Home told peers: “The British public on the whole do not realise quite how destructive grey squirrels can be, and it would be helpful if the government could in some way sponsor programmes and information to educate the person in the street on the harm that they do.
“Making it illegal to feed squirrels in the same way as was done for pigeons in Trafalgar Square might be considered, although I am not sure that it is practical.
“It might also be helpful if people knew that grey squirrels are extremely good to eat.
“I have eaten them but, to my mind, the best place for a grey squirrel is in one cage in London Zoo and nowhere else.”
The peer was speaking during a debate in the House of Lords on tree pests and diseases.
Opening the debate, independent crossbencher Lord Hope of Craighead said: “It is now recognised that the grey squirrel is at the top of the list of the introduced species which are regarded as pests that are damaging, especially to trees.”
Fellow crossbencher Earl Lytton said the animal seemed to like sycamore and suggested it could be one way of trapping them.
He said: “They love the sugars in their bark. I wonder whether one could plant them as a sort of natural bait to try to round up the little pesky blighters.”
Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville said: “The grey squirrel damage affects many tree species, reducing the economic functionality of forests to zero and reducing CO2 sequestration.”
Labour frontbencher Baroness Jones of Whitchurch noted some of the “novel proposals for their eradication”.
“However, one thing is clear – we need a scientific and humane initiative if we are to control their spread,” she said.