Volunteers sought for local squirrel survey

Help take part in squirrel survey.
Help take part in squirrel survey.

Volunteers are being sought from the Forfar and Kirriemuir areas to take part in a survey on red and grey squirrels in the vicinity.

Ken Neil, Project Officer (Tayside) for Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels (SSRS), contacted the Dispatch and Herald to issue an appeal for help from local residents during March and April.

Only 120,000 red squirrels remain in Scotland, around 75 per cent of the total U.K. population. Scotland is one of the few havens left for red squirrels, with areas in the north still remaining grey-free.

But, warns SSRS, greys are on the move and action must be taken now to protect those red squirrels that are left.

For the last five years the project has carried out valuable survey work in the Angus area, and this year’s research will take place in March and April.

Ken would like to hear from anyone willing to give up a few hours visiting a specific site to gather information on a fortnightly basis.

He said: “Every year we do surveys looking for the presence of red or grey squirrels. We put out feeder boxes and put down bait in the feeder. There are also sticky tabs which the volunteers send to us and we view these under a microscope to see whether red or grey squirrels are in the area. This is carried out all over Scotland.”

The project aims to protect red squirrels in the Highlands, Argyll, North-East Scotland and northern Tayside; practice targeted grey squirrel management to prevent the grey moving northwards; improve and share knowledge and understanding of squirrel management; involve foresters and woodland owners in creating ideal habitat for red squirrels; increase knowledge of the distribution of squirrels in Scotland and promote red squirrel conservation to the public.

The red squirrel is the U.K.’s only native squirrel species. They are sadly absent from most of England and Scotland’s central belt due to the spread of the grey squirrel.