AN outbreak of grey squirrels locally is causing concern for an organisation dedicated to preserving red squirrels in the south of Scotland.
Dr Stephanie Johnstone, a red squirrel project officer based in Dalbeattie said: “Unfortunately we have had an outbreak of grey squirrels just north of Newton Stewart in and around Knockman wood and a grey squirrel in the woods behind Creetown.
“I am keen to get this information to the local people and ask for any further information that they may be able to give me regarding the occurrence of grey (and red) squirrels in the area.”
The red squirrel is an endangered species with as few as 160,000 thought to remain in the whole of the UK. The decline can be attributed to many factors. But there most significant is the spread of the grey squirrel.
Grey squirrels were introduced form North America in 1876 and in 132 years have replaced the native red squirrel across most of the UK, but they are not common in Galloway. They are also the carriers of the squirrel pox virus which is harmless to greys but lethal to reds.
The Red Squirrels in South Scotland group aim to create a pox free ‘buffer zone’ in this area but it can only succeed with your help. They are keen to hear from anyone who has seen either a red or grey squirrel to allow them to get a more up-to-date picture of the changes in distribution of red and grey squirrels.
To report sightings either use the online recording form at www.redsquirrels.org.uk, email your sighting to firstname.lastname@example.org of call Stephanie on 01556 610051.