VOLUNTEERS have been helping to show the big picture in red squirrel populations.
More than 1,200 hours of work was carried out by staff and volunteers from Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE) this spring to try to identify the geographical range of the species.
A total of 239 woodlands were visited and red squirrels were found in 113 of them, including sites in Northumberland, Cumbria, the Yorkshire Dales, Merseyside and County Durham.
However, grey squirrels, which threaten reds’ survival through competition and disease, were also traced in 34 per cent of the woods surveyed.
The study provides a baseline to judge the success of red squirrel conservation efforts, as well as the effectiveness of grey control, and a monitoring programme will repeat the survey this autumn and bi-annually in future years.
RSNE Research Officer Adam Seward said: “We are grateful to all supporters of this enormous survey. The results will provide a vital benchmark against which we can measure changes in squirrel species range in future years.”
Egger UK was the main funder for the spring monitoring project. RSNE has launched an appeal for funds to hire three rangers to carry out grey control after breeding greys were found in three of nine reserves. To make a donation visit www.nwt.org.uk/red-squirrel-appeal-2012