Red squirrel army to protect this diminishing species

Conservationists begin a big recruitment drive for red squirrel volunteers

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Red squirrel on mossy oak

A new approach is being taken to save our native red squirrels, involving the recruitment of 5,000 volunteers (a huge 10-fold increase)!

Non-native grey squirrels were brought to Britain from North America in the 1870s and have since taken over and out-competed the native reds.

Greys threaten red populations, because they are carriers of disease and their larger size means they dominate in terms of food competition and territory.

“In most of the UK there are only a handful of refuges left for red squirrels,” said Dr Cathleen Thomas, the Red Squirrel United (RSU) progamme manager. “Without help, experts predict this beautiful and treasured creature could be extinct within as little as 35 years.”

The Red Squirrel United programme is a UK-wide network run by The Wildlife Trusts and its approach to saving the red squirrel is highly volunteer-orientated.

Community-based teams will focus their attention on the nine red squirrel strongholds, and volunteers will monitor sightings and set up cameras for detailed behavioural surveys.

Grey squirrel encroachment will be reported, with action taken to humanely cull them.

 

How and where to see red squirrels

How do squirrels find their nuts?

Read more wildlife news stories in BBC Wildlife Magazine

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