The Red squirrels are back!! They are the native breed of squirrels in the North American continent. But when the Grey variant were introduced to North America, the red squirrels suffered a huge blow. Their numbers were decreasingly gradually and recently they dropped to an alarming rate. But a recent study reveals that after almost one and half centuries, the red squirrels numbers are on the rise.
The numbers were getting dangerously low because of a pox virus carried by the greys, similar to myxomatosis, along with the greys’ superior adaptability.
However, a three-month study in 300 woodlands in the north of England has shown the number of red squirrels has risen by 7 per cent compared with the number in spring last year.
It is the first time in 140 years that a count of red squirrels has shown an increase in numbers. Volunteers for the wildlife group Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE) also discovered that the number of grey squirrels was declining.
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RSNE said the red squirrels were revived by improvements to their woodland habitats. Conservationists have also started to turn the tide by spreading squirrel traps, then releasing the reds but killing the greys. Volunteers observed the rodents in Ambleside and Rydal in Cumbria for the first time in a decade.
Phil Bailey, of the Brampton Red Squirrel Group, in Cumbria, said: “The monitoring has helped us learn that there are now 20 squirrels close to our home here which inspires us to continue our efforts to save this native species.”
The number of red squirrels is rising rapidly in popular Cumbrian areas such as Skellghyll Woods in Ambleside and Betty Fold at Hawkshead Hill.
Simon O’Hare, of the RSNE, said the involvement of local people had been “crucial” in boosting numbers. “Reds are being seen throughout the area,” he said. “The effect on tourism is immeasurable. People never forget seeing red squirrels.”
Neil Salisbury, who owns Hawkshead Hill, where red squirrels were wiped out five years ago, said greys had been removed and reds were now using the feeders at the tea room.
The first grey squirrels were brought here from North America in 1876. More were introduced, notably by the Duke of Bedford to the park at Woburn Abbey, where they thrived.