Report from Chris Smith.
Havens are to be set up by Scotland's first two full-time red squirrel conservation officers to halt the marauding armies of greys that threaten them with extinction.
The invaders, introduced from Canada less than a century ago, are advancing on several fronts, pushing the native red squirrel population of south Scotland towards destruction. Outnumbered and outmanoeuvred, the red squirrel has nonetheless found an ally in the Southern Uplands Partnership [SUP].
The SUP is advertising for two conservation officers to organise powerful defences across the Borders and Dumfries & Galloway in order to halt the advance of the greys.
The grey squirrel does not physically attack the smaller red. But they often deny reds an adequate food supply, produce more offspring, and are also believed to be the carriers of a virus, parapox, to which greys are resistant but reds are not.
Forestry managers say the greys also cause widespread damage to trees and efforts are being made to cull numbers on some estates by trapping. Sixty years ago, there was a relatively healthy population of red squirrels across the UK mainland. Today there are more than 1.5 million grey squirrels in Britain, but only 160,000 reds, 75 per cent of them in Scotland.
© The Scotsman, 30 th May 2000
|Return to index||Return to Exotic Scottish Animals||Return to Grey squirrels|