Joy as reds number is on the increase

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THINGS are looking up for red squirrel conservation at a local and regional level.

Red Squirrels Northern England has revealed that after monitoring 300 woodlands and gardens in the area, reds were found in seven per cent more sites and grey squirrels discovered in 18 per cent fewer sites in the spring of this year than in spring 2012.

And Morpeth and District Red Squirrels (MAD RS) has gone from strength to strength. It now has more than 200 contacts who report sightings and feed reds in their garden.

In recent months, the group, which was formed in February 2012, has been raising awareness of what it does and how people can help its conservation measures. Its efforts have included jointly hosting a successful wildlife day at Woodhorn.

Joint co-ordinator Kate Weightman said: “We’re delighted with the new figures from Red Squirrels Northern England and the people who carry out grey squirrel control for our group have noticed that where grey numbers have reduced, the reds are coming back.

“As well as the growing number of individual volunteers, some communities have said that they would like to set up their own group – for example, Cresswell and Netherwitton. This is ideal because local volunteers will be looking after their own patch.

“We’ve received generous grant support from all the organisations we’ve approached so far and Longhirst residents are doing some fund-raising for us as many families in the village are spotting reds in their garden. More landowners are helping our efforts following the establishment of the Duke of Northumberland’s initiative.

“A Red Squirrels Northern England ranger covers our area, but we’re now looking to get the funding in place to employ our own ranger because we have a large amount of woodland.”

For more information about MAD RS, visit www.madredsquirrels.com