Squirrel survey shows reds are on the rise again

A red squirrel
A red squirrel
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Red squirrels are on the rise again, with a new survey showing them in more sites than greys across the north.

The fifth Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE) survey shows that red squirrels can still be found widely across the region, with populations in seven counties.

For the first time since the annual survey began, last year found grey squirrels present in more places than reds. This has now been reversed, with reds detected in more sites than greys in 2016.

Factors such as wet weather and a lack of natural foods favoured by grey squirrels such as beech nuts and acorns last autumn are likely to have influenced the result, coupled with a huge conversation effort by RSNE staff, private estates and hundreds of community volunteers across the north working together to protect red squirrels.

This year’s results have shown that the red squirrel range has remained stable from last year, with 44 per cent of sites surveyed containing them. Greys have fared poorer, having been found in only 37 per cent of sites, compared to 47 per cent last year.

Christine Westerback carried out a survey in Choppington Woods andwas delighted when the hair samples collected during the two-week period turned out to be from a red.

She said: “I’ve done this survey for a couple of years now and have only seen grey squirrels, having lost our reds to squirrel pox. I’m so pleased to know that there are red squirrels back in the woodlands.”

Morpeth and District Red Squirrels co-ordinator Sue Mitchell said: “We are really grateful to the Ridley family charity for providing us with a grant to work in the woodlands and remove any greys that we find. The grant is enabling us to continue to work in the Morpeth and district area.”