Belford, Meeting

Red squirrel
Red squirrel

Save our Squirrels

Red Squirrels Need Your Help. This is the title of a fund-raising talk by John Rae, of the Save our Squirrels Berwick Group.

It takes place at Bell View Resource Centre in West Street, Belford, on Monday, April 24, at 6pm, with soft drinks and wine available.

Entry is free, although a donation towards the work of Bell View (Belford), a charity providing services and activities for older people, would be most appreciated.

The red squirrel is native to Britain, but its future is increasingly uncertain as the introduced American grey squirrel expands its range. There are estimated to be only 140,000 red squirrels left in Britain, with over 2.5 million greys.

Northumberland is one of the last remaining areas in England that still has a viable population of red squirrels in our woods. In fact, the Kyloe/Detchant and Shiellow woods have been designated a Red Squirrel Reserve by Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Save our Squirrels Project.

However, our red squirrels are under threat throughout the North of England because greys out-compete them for food in deciduous and mixed woodland and carry squirrelpox virus, which is harmless to them, but kills reds within two weeks.

You can help by reporting sightings of both red and grey squirrels.

Within the North of England there are 16 Red Squirrel Reserves – areas of, mostly coniferous, forest that have been identified as giving the red squirrel the best chance of survival. All the landowners and managers of these forests have signed up to an agreement that they will manage the habitat to the maximum benefit of the red squirrel through carefully planned felling and replanting programmes.

The Kyloe, Detchant and Shiellow woods together form the sole reserve in North Northumberland, with the Kidland and Kielder forests the next nearest.

These woods create a unique habitat, having a huge variety of tree species, and are special as one of the last refuges of the red squirrel in England.

It is important that we, as the local community, do everything we can to protect the environment for the survival of this beautiful, endangered animal. Kyloe, Detchant and Shiellow need our help to enable our red squirrels to survive.

The Berwick group is key to raising awareness locally and encouraging local action to save the red squirrel. Its main aims are to:

• Help protect the Kyloe, Detchant and Shiellow Red Squirrel Reserve and all red squirrels in Northern Northumberland and Southern Scotland.

• Work closely with the Red Squirrels in Northern England Project and Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels.

• Raise awareness of local squirrels and encourage people to appreciate squirrels.

• Train people in wildlife/squirrel surveying and recording.

• Gather data on squirrels throughout North Northumberland and Southern Scotland.

Members of the group and Bell View look forward to seeing you on Monday.