20th Feb 2019, by Gill Hatcher
Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels has published the results of its 2018 annual survey, which indicate that while most of Scotland’s red squirrel populations remain stable, populations in southern Scotland remain under threat.
Since 2011, Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels has been monitoring squirrel populations in the parts of the country where red squirrels are most threatened by the spread of non-native grey squirrels. Grey squirrels, which were introduced to Britain from North America in the 19th Century, out-compete red squirrels for resources, and can also carry squirrelpox, a virus that doesn't harm them but is deadly to reds.
Previous survey results have indicated that red squirrel populations in the project’s focal areas had stabilised, a sign that with continued effort from conservationists and volunteers, the decline of Scotland’s core red squirrel populations can be halted. 2018’s survey results again make optimistic reading regarding the future of red squirrels in North East Scotland and the Central Lowlands.
In southern Scotland, however, while the proportion of survey sites detecting red squirrels has remained constant, the number of sites with a grey squirrel presence has significantly increased, suggesting that grey squirrels are continuing to move into what was previously “red only” territory.
Although red and grey squirrels can live side by side for a short period of time, in most wooded landscapes, grey squirrels will ...