Back in September we asked the Scottish public once again to get outdoors, enjoy nature and keep an eye out for both red and grey squirrels during National Red Squirrel Week. Sightings were reported on the SSRS website and each one was individually verified. Now we are delighted to report that the results are in! 1099 people took part across the country, reporting an incredible 1549 sightings in just one week.
We were particularly keen to see this year’s results due to the impact Covid-19 has had on our annual Spring Survey, which has been cancelled for the past two years. More detailed analysis is ongoing, but the overall distribution of red and grey squirrels across the 2021 Great Scottish Squirrel Survey results map looks highly positive, reflecting the project’s continued progress towards achieving its aims in priority areas:
- Removal of grey squirrels from Aberdeen and the surrounding countryside, allowing reds to return to the city
- Protecting the ‘Highland Line’ – preventing grey squirrels from spreading further north towards Scotland’s core red squirrel populations in Grampian and the Highlands
- Protecting thriving red squirrel populations in the south of Scotland within ‘Priority Areas for Red Squirrel Conservation’ (PARCs)
Participation in the Great Scottish Squirrel Survey was down from last year, although this isn’t surprising given 2020 was a bumper year for squirrel sightings. With lockdown restricting where people could go and what they could do, more people took the opportunity to get to know their local patch of nature. However, clearly many people have caught the squirrel-spotting bug as we have still received more than 13,000 sightings to our website so far this year.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to participate in our citizen science campaign, and to all the organisations, community groups and volunteers who helped spread the word and organise events. Together we have helped spread red squirrel awareness across Scotland and collected valuable information that will help inform future conservation action. And a special thank you to all our volunteer sightings verifiers.
Remember you can submit a squirrel sighting all year round – let us know what you see by reporting on the sightings page.