THE REDS ARE BACK!

Air Gunner - - In The News -

You may re­mem­ber that a few months ago we fea­tured col­lab­o­ra­tion between two lead­ing Bri­tish shoot­ing brands, Bro­cock Air­guns and MTC Op­tics, who have tied into a joint ven­ture to help the Corn­wall Red Squir­rel Project, to re-es­tab­lish the na­tive red squir­rel in the south-west of Eng­land. Be­fore the reds could be rein­tro­duced it’s been nec­es­sary to clear the Lizard Penin­sula of grey squir­rels be­cause they carry the squir­rel para­pox virus – deadly to the reds. Bro­cock sup­plied ri­fles and MTC scopes for the lo­cal rangers and Lead Ranger, Ian Hamp­ton, caught up with us at the time of the MTC event. He was de­lighted to tell us that the project is on sched­ule; hold­ing pens now be­ing built and the red squir­rels are due to ar­rive within the next few months. Th­ese pens will hold them for the next 12 months, when it is hoped that they will breed, and if all con­tin­ues to go well, they will be re­leased next year.

At that point, the real work will be­gin to pro­vide a safe habi­tat for reds, and to keep the in­va­sive greys at bay. The group are al­ready mak­ing plans to ex­pand the buf­fer zone be­cause the ma­jor­ity of grey squir­rels culled in the last cou­ple of months have been trav­el­ling ju­ve­niles, and this is in­di­cates that new greys are mov­ing into the cleared zone be­ing pre­pared.

A new ranger, Adam Robin­son, has joined the project and it is planned to add more vol­un­teers over the next few months. CRSP will be run­ning three-day train­ing cour­ses in con­junc­tion with long-time airgun train­ing ex­perts, ATEO, run by David Mills, over the next few months. Th­ese cour­ses will train and cer­tify rangers in grey-squir­rel con­trol, as well as red-squir­rel con­ser­va­tion. Look here for more in­for­ma­tion on how you can help, but in the mean­time you can find out more at: www. cor­wallred­squir­rels.co.uk and on the Bro­cock web­site www.bro­cock.co.uk

Could we soon see red squir­rels in Corn­wall? The an­swer is - yes!

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