CONCERNS have been raised in West Cumbria after the sighting of a red squirrel with a possible case of squirrel pox.

John Forster, posted his concern on West Lakes Red Squirrel’s Facebook account and said: “Bad news, we’ve just found a red squirrel with probable pox in Bridgefoot.

"Unfortunately we couldn’t get to it but it was struggling to hang on as it climbed a tree to get away, very bad news.

“If you’re in the Bridgefoot area please remove and disinfect feeders.”

Jo Kirkbride, from the Allerdale Red Squirrel Group (ARSG), said she was aware of the possible case, but it had not been confirmed.

She said: “It has not been confirmed as squirrel pox. It is not necessarily the case that it is squirrel pox.

"Early onset of squirrel pox is lethargy and legions around the eyes, nose and genitals. They catch it from the grey squirrel, who are carriers, but it is fatal for the red.”

She said there had been occasional outbreaks of squirrel pox in Cumbria. She said people could help by reporting sightings of red and grey squirrels so that volunteers can react to where they are.

She added there are signs of illness when red squirrels are slow, lethargic or not moving. Currently there are thought to be 140,000 red squirrels compared to 2.5 million greys.

Red squirrels are native to England and are thought to have been here 10,000 years.

The grey was introduced by the Victorians in the 1800s.

To help with the protection of red squirrels, sightings of red’s or grey’s, along with information such as: contact details, type, number seen, location, and details - such as whether the squirrel was healthy and how long it was possible to watch for - can be reported to: