Dear Prince of Wales, can you help the red squirrels?

Prof David Bellamy (left) and Rusty Redcoat author Ernie Gordon of Alnwick.
Prof David Bellamy (left) and Rusty Redcoat author Ernie Gordon of Alnwick.

A wildlife conservationist who has campaigned for decades to prevent the extinction of red squirrels has appealed to Prince Charles for support.

Ernie Gordon, of Alnwick, has written to the Prince of Wales after moves to cull disease-ridden grey squirrels from the Royal’s Duchy of Cornwall estate to protect indigenous reds hit the headlines recently.

Ernie, 81, has also sent a DVD outlining his grave concerns for the future of the rapidly-diminishing red population in England and the threat to the species north of the border from an invasion by diseased English greys.

On top of this, Ernie posted a copy of his latest book, The Adventures of Rusty Redcoat – Volume Two, which has a foreword by Professor David Bellamy OBE.

Ernie said: “If nothing is done on a national basis to control the spread of diseased greys, I believe that the red-squirrel population of northern England and Scotland faces possible extinction.

“I hope my book can help inspire a national debate about the problem.

“Even here in Alnwick, the reds that once were prolific in the area’s wild and managed woodlands have all but disappeared to be replaced by the diseased grey squirrels.”

Ernie’s Rusty Redcoat series tells the tale of Rusty’s fight for survival. The books carry a strong message about the threat of greys to the red-squirrel community. Volume Two will be launched in Alnwick Town Hall on Friday, November 28, between 10am and noon, seven years after the publication of Volume One.

Ernie has produced DVDs showing his interaction with red squirrels. A sample was sent to Sir David Attenborough who wished Ernie luck in his campaign. Ernie also won a competition for a film showing him playing harmonica to a red squirrel.

For more information about the books and Ernie’s campaign, visit rustyredcoat.co.uk

Prince Charles is a patron of the Red Squirrel Survival Trust. A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said they could not comment on Ernie’s correspondence to the Prince.