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Thursday, 25 December 2014

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Spread of red squirrels across Cumbria is best in country

Wildlife experts say the spread of red squirrels across Cumbria is the best to be found in any English county.

Red squirrel photo

Conservation networks in Lakeland valleys have helped, while new pockets of people aiming to help the species have continued to grow outside the national park, says the organisation Red Squirrels Northern England.

A spring survey also suggests the quality of this work may be helping reds expand into the western edges of North Yorkshire and County Durham.

The survey covered nearly 300 different woodlands and gardens across northern England.

Jackie Foott, co-ordinator of the Northern Red Squirrels Cumbria Community Network, said: “We are delighted by the passion and commitment Cumbrian residents show in the conservation of an animal they love.

“This survey continues to show these efforts are being successful.”

Red Squirrels Northern England employs a 15 strong team to conserve northern England’s red squirrels.

Its analysis showed the spread of red squirrels has remained stable over the last two years across northern England, bucking a trend of more than a century of loss.

The survey was the fifth run by the organisation over the last three years.

Community volunteers and project staff found red squirrels in the same number of sites as during the autumn of 2013, despite seeing an increase of nine per cent in the number of sites with non-native grey squirrels.

Increases in grey squirrel detection were expected following a mild winter and seemingly abundant wild nut and berry supply, the organisation added.

The red squirrel conservation measure the organisation focuses on is grey squirrel control.

Grey squirrels carry squirrelpox, a disease fatal to red squirrels and are also able to “out compete” red squirrels in most woodland habitats.

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