Daily Mail

Red light for red squir­rels

- Com­piled by Charles Legge Isle of Man · Department of Environment · United Kingdom · United States of America · England · Douglas · Pontiac · Great Lakes · Pittsburgh · Pennsylvania · Pittsburgh · British Armed Forces · British Army · James Fenimore Cooper · Ohio · Notts County F.C. · Beijing · Cambridge · London · Parkman, OH · Ohio River · Stapleford · Ian Smith

QUES­TION Is there a plan to in­tro­duce red squir­rels to the Isle of Man?

In 2016, the Isle of Man’s Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment, Food and Agri­cul­ture is­sued a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion over a law change that would al­low the in­tro­duc­tion of red squir­rels.

Red squir­rels in Bri­tain have been threat­ened by grey squir­rels, which were in­tro­duced from north Amer­ica as an or­na­men­tal species in the 1870s. Com­pe­ti­tion for habi­tat and the trans­mis­sion of the deadly para­poxvirus has seen the num­ber of reds drop from 3.5 mil­lion to be­tween 120,000 and 160,000. There are be­lieved to be just 15,000 in Eng­land.

The plans were shelved fol­low­ing op­po­si­tion from the Manx Wildlife Trust, which pointed out the dan­gers of in­tro­duc­ing an alien species to an is­land. They were con­cerned that the lim­ited food sources for squir­rels could have a dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect on birds’ eggs.

The trust is at­tempt­ing to re­vive the for­tunes of the na­tive puffins, which are un­der threat, and fear that the in­tro­duc­tion of red squir­rels could wipe them out.

Red squir­rels are not threat­ened on a Euro­pean scale, which means there are other species that re­quire more press­ing con­ser­va­tion ac­tion.

J. E. A. Simmonds, Dou­glas, Isle of Man.

QUES­TION Is there any ev­i­dence for the claim that Bri­tish soldiers de­lib­er­ately in­fected Na­tive Amer­i­cans with blan­kets im­preg­nated with small­pox?

ThEsE highly con­tentious events took place dur­ing the siege of Fort Pitt, shortly af­ter the Bri­tish vic­tory in the French and In­dian War of 1754 to 1763, the name given to the north Amer­i­can front of the seven Years’ War.

There is di­rect ev­i­dence of germ war­fare against na­tive Amer­i­cans.

In 1763, the Odawa Chief Pon­tiac sparked an up­ris­ing against English set­tlers in the Great Lakes re­gion, dubbed Pon­tiac’s War. In­spired by his ex­ploits, Le­nape In­di­ans laid siege to Fort Pitt, now Pitts­burgh, Penn­syl­va­nia, on June 22, 1763. The fort held out un­der the com­mand of Cap­tain simeon Ecuyer, a 22-year veteran swiss mer­ce­nary in the Bri­tish ser­vice.

small­pox, a deadly dis­ease char­ac­terised by a skin rash, had bro­ken out among the gar­ri­son. Dur­ing a par­ley — ne­go­ti­a­tions to end hos­til­i­ties — on June 24, 1763, Ecuyer gave the be­sieg­ing In­di­ans in­fected items: ‘We gave them two blan­kets and a hand­ker­chief out of the small­pox hos­pi­tal.’

Jef­fery Amherst, com­man­der-in-chief of the Bri­tish forces, had the same idea. he sent Colonel henry Bou­quet, head of a Pitt relief party, a let­ter on June 29: ‘Could it not be con­trived to send the small­pox among the disaf­fected tribes of In­di­ans? We must use ev­ery stratagem in our power to re­duce them.’

Amherst had a loathing for the na­tive Amer­i­cans be­cause of the killing of Bri­tish soldiers who had sur­ren­dered at Fort henry in 1757, the in­spi­ra­tion for James Fen­i­more Cooper’s novel The Last Of The Mo­hi­cans.

The 19th- cen­tury his­to­rian Fran­cis Park­man es­ti­mated that 60 to 80 na­tive Amer­i­cans in the Ohio Val­ley died in a lo­calised small­pox epi­demic af­ter the gift of the im­preg­nated blan­kets.

But he ar­gued they might equally have been in­fected by the cloth­ing their war­riors had taken from the 2,000 set­tlers they had killed or ab­ducted.

The con­flict was re­solved by a con­ven­tional battle with a Bri­tish con­tin­gent fight­ing the na­tive Amer­i­cans to re­lieve the fort. Michael Lowry, Sta­ple­ford, Notts.

QUES­TION Why is vana­dium touted as ‘the most im­por­tant com­mod­ity you’ve never heard of’?

VANA­DIUM is a medium-hard, sil­very­grey metal. It has been a use­ful com­mod­ity for many years be­cause when al­loyed with iron, it makes a shock and cor­ro­sion-re­sis­tant steel ad­di­tive called fer­rovana­dium.

Just 2lb added to a tonne of steel dou­bles its strength.

henry Ford was the first to use vana­dium on an in­dus­trial scale to strengthen the 1908 Model T car chas­sis.

Vana­dium steel al­loys are used to make high-ten­sile tools such as axles, car gears, springs, cut­ting tools and crankshaft­s. They are also used to make nu­clear re­ac­tors be­cause of their low neu­tron-ab­sorb­ing prop­er­ties.

how­ever, what is re­ally ex­cit­ing in­vestors is vana­dium’s use in flow bat­tery tech­nol­ogy, a high- ca­pac­ity elec­tri­cal stor­age de­vice.

The large ca­pac­i­ties pos­si­ble from vana­dium re­dox bat­ter­ies make them well suited for reg­u­lat­ing vari­able power gen­er­a­tion sources such as wind or so­lar power.

Iron­i­cally, the de­mand for vana­dium in the steel in­dus­try, es­pe­cially in China, has driven up the costs of this scarce metal, which is af­fect­ing the growth of the flow bat­tery mar­ket.

Dr Ian Smith, Cam­bridge.

IS THERE a ques­tion to which you have al­ways wanted to know the an­swer? Or do you know the an­swer to a ques­tion raised here? Send your ques­tions and an­swers to: Charles Legge, An­swers To Cor­re­spon­dents, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, Lon­don, W8 5TT; fax them to 01952 780111 or email them to charles.legge@dai­ly­mail.co.uk. A se­lec­tion will be pub­lished but we are not able to en­ter into in­di­vid­ual cor­re­spon­dence.

 ??  ?? En­dan­gered in Eng­land: Red squir­rel
En­dan­gered in Eng­land: Red squir­rel

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