Members of our team recently visited Anglesey and the National Trust’s Plas Newydd, where we learned about the NT’s conservation work in reintroducing and protecting our red squirrel population
Whilst we were aware that grey squirrels carried the deadly (for reds) Squirrel Pox (SQPV) – we were unaware of the significant impact that greys had on trees. Grey squirrels strip the bark from the higher branches preventing trees from reaching maturity and impacting on the wildlife that live in the canopy.
Greys will even take fledglings from nest sites – so impacting on local bird life.
“Over the last few hundred years numbers have been going down” the National Trust’s head of nature conservation, Dr David J. Bullock told us.
Besides disease and loss of woodland habitat, the introduction of non-native grey squirrels in the 19th century has led to them replacing the native red squirrel throughout much of southern England and Wales.
A recent outbreak of SQPV at the Red Squirrel Reserve at Formby Point led to the death of 70 per cent of the squirrels living there.
“Thankfully, the population has now recovered and there is also evidence that at least some of the red squirrels there have developed some immunity to SQPV,” said Dr. Bullock.
This got me to wondering whether there was an opportunity to turn Macclesfield Forest into a haven for reds and ilovemacc will be contacting United Utilities to ascertain the viability of a scheme.
Ed: since this item appeared United Utilities have been in touch and they are passing this on to their wildlife officer for consideration.
The attached video provides information on a red squirrel conservation project in Cornwall.