New crusade to save red squirrels

A NEW campaign to save Northumberland’s red squirrels has begun.

The Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST) launched the initiative at a reception hosted by Lord Ridley at Blagdon last week to encourage local businesses and large organisations to play their part.

The group aims to ensure red squirrels are living in all woodlands north of Newcastle by 2020, but it needs £60,000 a year for the next three years to employ the staff needed to tackle the challenge.

Lord Ridley said: “It is important that we save the iconic red squirrel. We are fortunate in being one of the few remaining places in England where red squirrels can be seen.”

Guests at the event were told that urgent action is needed to safeguard the future of the species.

RSST Director Janet Wickens said: “It is possible to save our red squirrels, but we need to act hard, fast and decisively.

“Waiting even for a few months could be too late. Grey squirrels are bringing the deadly squirrel pox virus to our beloved reds and we need people on the ground to stop the devastation of local treasured populations.

“Local people taking local action is the key to success and if we can raise enough awareness and sufficient funds then we can ensure that reds will be here in future years.”

Several companies are already involved in the campaign, including chipboard manufacturer Egger UK, based in Hexham, which has sponsored a bi-annual monitoring and research programme.

For more information about the campaign call 01434 345757.