Squirrel survey shows red are on the rise again

A red squirrel
A red squirrel

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, it found grey squirrels present in more places than reds last year. 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 conservation 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.

One of the red squirrel strongholds is Kyloe in north Northumberland.

John Rae, co-ordinator of Save our Squirrels Berwick, said: “We were pleased that the survey once again confirms Kyloe’s status as a stronghold for red squirrels.

“The reds in Kyloe have been doing very well due to our group efforts, supported by RSNE ranger Ian Hardie.

“The woods are constantly and extensively monitored for grey squirrel incursion and trapped by group volunteers when greys are detected.”

Nick Mason, RSNE project manager, said: “We are really pleased by the fantastic news that red squirrels have remained stable since the last survey, having been a little concerned by the rise in greys over the last two years.”

For information on where you can see red squirrels or to report sightings, visit www.rsne.org.uk