Vis­i­tors to help with red squir­rels sur­vey

The Oban Times - - News -

LOCH Lomond and The Trossachs Na­tional Park is ask­ing for vis­i­tors and res­i­dents to help mon­i­tor en­dan­gered red squir­rels in the area.

Scot­land’s first na­tional park is work­ing with the Her­itage Lot­tery-funded Sav­ing Scot­land’s Red Squir­rels project launched by the Scot­tish Wildlife Trust to pro­tect and strengthen the red squir­rel pop­u­la­tion within the park.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic are be­ing asked to help by re­port­ing sight­ings of both red squir­rels and their grey cousins on­line.

It is the larger grey squir­rels which are largely re­spon­si­ble of the en­dan­ger­ment of the red, as they com­pete for food and space, and also carry squir­relpox, which is often fa­tal to the red squir­rels.

Pro­tect­ing the red squir­rels is one of the park’s five ‘ Wild Chal­lenges’ for Wild Park 2020, the park au­thor­ity’s bio­di­ver­sity ac­tion plan.

Alan Bell, con­ser­va­tion man­ager at Loch Lomond and The Trossachs Na­tional Park, said: ‘We are work­ing to pro­tect our red squir­rels and by cre­at­ing good habi­tats free of grey squir­rels we are also en­cour­ag­ing them back into ar­eas where they haven’t been in a while.

‘The an­nual sur­vey helps us to iden­tify where red squir­rels and grey squir­rels are and helps us to know where to fo­cus our ef­forts.’

The sur­vey is now un­der way us­ing feeder boxes to iden­tify the ar­eas where the red and grey squir­rels are in the park.

Mary-Anne Col­lis, Sav­ing Scot­land’s Red Squir­rels project of­fi­cer for Ar­gyll, Trossachs and Stir­ling­shire, said: ‘Hav­ing al­most 40 dif­fer­ent ar­eas that we are check­ing both in and around the na­tional park means more than 200kg of peanuts were de­liv­ered to help en­tice the squir­rels to come and say hello.

‘ We re­ally rely on lo­cals and vis­i­tors to let us know what is hap­pen­ing so that we can fo­cus our ef­forts where they are needed.

‘There are still some ar­eas where you can find both red and grey squir­rels and that in­cludes some ar­eas of the na­tional park.

‘ While the ma­jor­ity of the squir­rels spot­ted are red there are still a few grey ones, par­tic­u­larly on the south­ern edges of the park.

‘We are very keen to know what squir­rels are about and would love peo­ple to record their sight­ings of both red and grey squir­rels on our web­site.’

To re­port a sight­ing of red squir­rels go to scot­tish­squir­rels. org.uk

Pho­to­graph: Stephen Wil­lis/ Sav­ing Scot­land’s Red Squir­rels

Vis­i­tors to the park are be­ing asked to mon­i­tor red squir­rels.

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