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The mischievous exploits of Squirrel Nutkin in the popular tales penned by Beatrix Potter won the red squirrel a place in the hearts of children everywhere.
However, the species now teeters on the brink of extinction – pushed there by a ruthless transatlantic rival.
The American grey squirrel has over the years muscled in on its traditional food supplies to the point where greys currently out-number reds by 66 to one.
The invasion has raised the very real threat that the red squirrel will disappear for good.Thankfully, help is now at hand.
A far-reaching plan to save the red squirrel from being wiped out was formally launched today by leading scientists and conservation experts.The North of England Red Squirrel Conservation Strategy aims to bring together wildlife groups as well as landowners, businesses, and the local community in the battle to ensure its survival.
The woodlands chosen will be managed to get the right mix of trees in terms of species and age structure to support healthy populations of red squirrels, but which are less well-suited to the higher energy demands of the larger grey. Targeted grey squirrel control will also take place in “buffer zones” surrounding the reserves to protect the red populations.
Landowners and farmers in the reserves and surrounding buffer zones have already announced their support for the plan.
They will be armed with all the expert advice, training and support needed for effective red squirrel conservation.
The Forestry Commission will also provide support in the form of cash grants to help private landowners with the cost of red squirrel conservation in and around the reserves.
(Full text at the Yorkshire Evening Post)