6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Lancashire Wildlife Trust launch the Last Red Squirrel campaign

PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 November 2016

Red squirrel showing bright summer colours by Darin Smith

Red squirrel showing bright summer colours by Darin Smith

not Archant

Spotting red squirrels outside of the atmospheric National Trust nature reserve at Formby can be difficult but these mammals are spreading their territory slowly into other parts of the county.

Rachel Miller with orphaned baby squirrel by Alan WrightRachel Miller with orphaned baby squirrel by Alan Wright

In fact, the Wildlife Trust now has regular red squirrel sightings at Mere Sands Wood, our reserve in Rufford, and we know of reds in woodland around Knowsley.

This is great news as they have bounced back from a squirrel pox which wiped out 80 per cent of their number in the north west. The disease has bitten twice over past couple of decades and is still a problem, but the population is now almost back to its old numbers.

Much of the recovery is down to hard work of volunteers working for The Lancashire Wildlife Trust – surveying numbers, maintaining habits and managing the encroachment of greys squirrels into red territories.

The Trust’s Red Squirrels project officer Rachel Miller said: ‘People in Merseyside and West Lancashire are rightly proud to have this habitat where red squirrels have survived some terrible setbacks.

LWT Red Squirrel Officer Rachel Miller places a hair trap in woods. The hair of the squirrel is caught revealing if its red or grey (Picture: Adam Moolna)LWT Red Squirrel Officer Rachel Miller places a hair trap in woods. The hair of the squirrel is caught revealing if its red or grey (Picture: Adam Moolna)

‘Thanks to the perseverance and dedication of our volunteers and project officers, the population recovered quickly and has now increased to just over 80 per cent of the pre-pox numbers.’

Grey squirrels were introduced to the UK by the Victorians to add a little more life to their gardens. The larger greys escaped and pushed the reds further and further north out-competing them in most habitats.

Then there was the pox - greys carry it but it does not affect them. It causes horrible, painful deaths in our native red squirrels. If the reds are to survive greys must be controlled, which is a tough job for the volunteers and officers of the Trust.

They are not alone. Our north west outpost is vitally important to a larger network up to Cumbria, the North East and Scotland – the Wildlife Trust in each area is leading on Red Squirrels United, a partnership with Newcastle University and Forest Research.

Digging deep for nuts by Adam MoolnaDigging deep for nuts by Adam Moolna

The partners aim to maintain grey squirrel-free habitat where it already exists - for example, on Anglesey and in Kielder Forest in northern England. They will extend current red squirrel protection zones in mid-Wales and Merseyside and implement a new whole country approach in Northern Ireland.

We are rightly proud of our red squirrel outpost and we are biased when we say that reds are far cuter than their grey cousins. They are smaller, have bushier tales and tufts on their ears and they are red. Did you know that red squirrels can be right or left handed? If you see one eating a pine cone they will be using one hand or the other.

Their fur can range from red in summer to a darker brown in winter. They can be almost black but their underside is always cream. They don’t hibernate in winter but they become less active so you might well be able to spot one at Formby during this time of the year.

Their coats moult in late summer and as winter turns to spring, and those ear tufts also moult in late autumn. Red squirrels have five toes and four fingers. They tend to live four five or six years and young squirrels are called kittens.

Red squirrel at Freshfield Dune Heath by Darin SmithRed squirrel at Freshfield Dune Heath by Darin Smith

The Lancashire Wildlife Trust is asking nature lovers to support our squirrels in its Last Red Squirrel campaign. The red squirrel is the species leading this campaign ensuring our own native wildlife will be here for future generations.

For more details of The Last Red Squirrel go to www.lancswt.org.uk/last-red-squirrel. People in the red squirrel areas will have received special booklets sent to their homes.

If you want to become a volunteer you can contact Rachel for more information at red.squirrel@lancswt.org.uk and 07590 745 862.

Lakeland fightback

There was more good news this month when a red squirrel was sighted from a bird hide at the Lake District Visitor Centre at Brockhole on the shores of Windermere. The wildlife charity Westmorland Red Squirrels and the Lake District National Park Authority have been working for the last three years to reduce the number of greys in the grounds.

More from Out & About

00:00

Huge swathes of Lancashire countryside have been destroyed by fires which have wiped out whole ecosystems

Read more
Bolton
Friday, July 20, 2018

Ramsbottom may have become a property hotspot and a foodie destination in recent years, but thing that remains a constant is the wonderful walking landscape right on its doorstep.

Read more
Ramsbottom
Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Handmade and homegrown are the key to success at these Burscough businesses, writes Rebekka O’Grady

Read more
Monday, July 16, 2018

Water vole numbers have plummeted in the last 10 years caused mainly by a 30 per cent decline in their habitats. The Carbon Landscape’s Katie Chambers goes on a search for these rare mammals.

Read more
Friday, July 13, 2018

Author and photographer Richard Barrett, who wrote ‘Cycling in the Lake District’ for the Kendal-based guidebook publisher, Cicerone, chooses his top 5 rides.

Read more
Lake District Cycling

From growing in the garden to fun at a festival, there’s a real buzz in this coastal town

Read more

A new generation of businesses are making the Lancashire town a destination in its own right

Read more

Ambleside epitomises the cultural landscape that was key in the Lake District being awarded World Heritage status

Read more
Ambleside
Friday, July 6, 2018

A visit to Musbury Tor is summit not to be missed says John Lenehan

Read more
Ramsbottom
Friday, July 6, 2018

A young Australian who came to England to play professional cricket has settled in Nelson to make beautiful bats.

Read more
Friday, June 29, 2018

Kendal is often referred to as ‘The Gateway to the Lakes’. It’s the perfect base to explore the South Lakes and these walks that begin within a 10 mile radius of the market town give you a good selection of days out for a short break.

Read more
Kendal
Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Ever wondered how Clitheroe Castle got that huge hole in its tower? John Lenehan might have the answer after this walk from Sabden.

Read more
Ribble Valley Walks

Overseas royalty and fashion designers have fallen in love with a not so humble Lancashire horse blanket made on the moors above Darwen.

Read more

While many people head north towards the Lake District for walking, the city of Lancaster has plenty on offer for ramblers.

Read more
Lancaster Canals
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Property Search