Return of the Reds!
Red squirrels are returning to some former haunts around Aberdeen!
The Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels project has been receiving reports of red squirrels householders in Bieldside and Cults have seen red squirrels in their gardens for the first time ever. Visitors to Hazlehead Park have also been delighted by sightings of red squirrels.
Project Officer Stephen Willis said:
“We get reports of squirrels from the public all the time – by phone, email, and via our squirrel reporting page on the Scottish Wildlife Trust website, and one regular visitor to Hazlehead reported seeing the first red ‘in over 40 years”.
“Our own survey work – as well as that of Aberdeen City Council Rangers – has always picked up a few reds around Hazlehead but it’s great to hear that members of the public are beginning to see them for themselves.
“This goes to show that the work SSRS has been doing to find our more about where the squirrels are in the Northeast and to counter the further spread of the greys, has been making a difference. If we manage to remove grey squirrels from Aberdeenshire entirely we can potentially secure a long-term future for the red squirrel both here and in the Highlands.”
Trapping has been carried out across the region by private estates and SSRS staff and over the last couple of years has helped reduce the numbers of grey squirrels. Householders across the region have also helped by taking part in the SSRS trap loan scheme, siting live traps in gardens throughout the city and suburbs. SSRS staff dispose of greys and reds can be quickly and harmlessly released.
A Bieldside resident is one such volunteer. “We’ve had a trap for less than a year and have caught numerous grey squirrels. We are lucky enough to have red squirrels in the garden too- they sometimes go in the trap but the SSRS staff have shown us a simple and quick way to release them. This summer we saw our first reds in over 30 years living here!’
Juliet Thornton of Cults was delighted to look out to her garden last week and see a red squirrel. “We are also absolutely thrilled with our new little friend. He is now here every morning for his peanuts. I never thought I would ever have the privilege of seeing these beautiful little creatures so close and for so long.”
Stephen Willis added, “We are gathering data – from trapping and surveys – that will hopefully confirm what the public are reporting – that the red squirrel is doing well here and will expand its range if grey squirrels are removed.”
“We have good coverage around lower Deeside but need more help to gather more information around the Bridge of Don, Dyce, and Inverurie areas. You can help by reporting sightings of both red and grey squirrels on the reporting page you can access at www.scottishsquirrels.org.uk.”
The Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST), whose Patron is HRH The Prince of Wales, is the UK’s national charity established to ensure the conservation and protection of the red squirrel in the UK. RSST works in partnership with dedicated and knowledgeable local groups and projects and is providing support to the north east and southern components of the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels (SSRS) project.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) is a registered charity. It is the largest voluntary body working for all the wildlife of Scotland, representing more than 35,000 members who care for wildlife and the environment. SWT seeks to raise public awareness of threatened habitats and species and manages over 120 wildlife reserves Scotland-wide.
Scottish Natural Heritage is the Scottish Government’s statutory advisor on the conservation, enhancement, enjoyment, understanding and sustainable use of the natural heritage.
Forestry Commission serves as the forestry directorate of the Government, advising on and implementing forestry policy and managing the national forest estate. Forestry Commission Scotland is ensuring that the national forest estate plays its part in delivering the aims of the partnership, and is supporting private landowners to do the same.
The Scottish Land and Estates represents the role and interests of those involved with rural property and businesses connected with the land. We embody a proactive approach to property, business and enterprise in rural Scotland.
Red Squirrels in South Scotland
Red Squirrels in South Scotland Project (RSSS) is the southern arm of the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels project. The main emphasis of its work is the stemming the spread of squirrelpox-carrying grey squirrels in south Scotland for the protection of red squirrels. Squirrelpox is a virus fatal to red squirrels but harmless to the grey squirrels which carry and spread it. Grey squirrels have migrated north from England carrying squirrelpox to limited areas of the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway. Recently squirrelpox as been detected in parts of Ayrshire (Mauchline and Culzean), and work is underway to remove all infected individuals.
The work of RSSS is therefore essential to Scotland’s red squirrel population as a whole and to maintain southern Scotland as a stronghold for our native red. RSSS has been conducting and promoting grey squirrel control since 2000. www.redsquirrels.org.uk.