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Conservationists call for 'red squirrel army'

BBC News

A group of conservation charities is launching its biggest ever recruitment drive for volunteers to help protect the native red squirrel. A total of 5,000 squirrel-watchers are required across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Volunteers will help protect resident squirrel populations. Researchers say the species remains under threat because of disease and competition for food from larger grey squirrels, from north America. This army of volunteers led by the Wildlife Trusts will focus on nine "red squirrel strongholds".


Many children think red squirrels are FICTIONAL

Daily Mail - Science & tech

A sighting of a red squirrel is now so rare, many children believe they are fictional. More than half of this age group have never seen one, while almost one in five below the age of eight think Britain's native squirrels exist only in story books, television programmes and films. A quarter of adults also admit they have never laid eyes on a red squirrel, following the spread of the invasive grey variety. There are believed to be just 30,000 red squirrels remaining in England, mainly in northern counties including Cumbria, Yorkshire and Northumberland. There are 120,000 in Scotland and around 1,500 in Wales, including a thriving population on Anglesey.


Red squirrels may be wiped out by Squirrel Pox in Anglesey

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Red squirrels could be almost wiped out in one of their last British strongholds by the deadly squirrel pox virus. Squirrel pox, carried by invasive grey squirrels, has helped destroy 95 per cent of native reds in England and Wales since 1952. But it had never been seen on Anglesey, Wales, raising fears after a dead red squirrel with facial lesions typical of the disease was discovered on Wednesday. Squirrel pox, carried by grey squirrels, has helped destroy 95 per cent of native reds in Britain since 1952. The virus is completely harmless for the invasive greys, which were introduced to Britain from America in 1876.


Invasive grey squirrels carry a parasite that makes their native red cousins sluggish

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Invasive grey squirrels carry a parasite that makes their native red cousins sluggish and threatens to further reduce their numbers, a study has found. Scientists say that the parasite -- carried only by the greys -- causes red squirrels to forage for food less efficiently and makes competition from the greys harder to face. The problem is so severe that it could wipe out red squirrels entirely where they share woodlands with the intruders. Red squirrels normally carry only one type of parasitic worm, or'helminth', in their stomach and intestines -- those of the species Trypanoxyuris sciuri. This means that they are therefore sensitive to foreign parasites transmitted by other animals -- including those of the alien grey squirrel.


Red squirrels are thriving again as pine marten numbers rise

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Red squirrels are being saved from extinction by a weasel-like predator that is hunting non-native grey squirrels. Pine marten numbers are rising in Scotland and the mammals are culling grey squirrels, which carry a virus that is harmless to them but is deadly to red squirrels. It is hoped that introducing pine martens across other parts of the UK can further increase numbers of red squirrels. Numbers of red squirrels are being saved from potential extinction as pine martens (pictured) are hunting the non-native grey squirrels. An international team of scientists looked at how the recent increase in the number of pine marten numbers has affected both squirrel species in parts of Scotland.