Translocation of red squirrels

You can read the recently published Guidance note for red squirrels in the Highlands final December 2016.

This guidance will inform the way forward for translocation (the deliberate movement and release of living organisms for conservation purposes) of red squirrels in the Highlands. It will ensure that translocations are carried out in appropriate woodlands.

The guidance sets out a robust framework to identify the reasons for selecting particular woodlands for translocation of reds. It is intended to help owners (or their representatives), conservationists and government officers in preparing and assessing proposals for translocation. It recognises that translocation is a valuable tool for red squirrel conservation in the Highlands

Criteria have been clarified to identify woodlands and provide a planning framework that can provide the basis for success that will contribute to the Scottish Strategy for Red Squirrel Conservation

The need to consider translocation is being driven by the threatened conservation status of red squirrels throughout the UK.

Is it red or grey?

During the winter, red squirrels’ coats can become quite dark, even grey.  You can see this in the photo above from Sean Oleg of France. You can check out other cases of grey coats on red squirrels on our Facebook page.

We are very keen to hear from anyone who spots such a red squirrel and if you are not sure if it is red or grey, please let us know!  The Highlands are red squirrel only as far as we know, but grey squirrels have crept into Highland before.  This happened in 2008 in Milton of Leys outside Inverness, and the Isle of Skye in 2009.  In both cases, the grey squirrels were trapped and dispatched.  Please us the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels website to report any sightings.

We are very keen to keep the Highlands as a red squirrel stronghold, and the more people reporting squirrels, the better!

National red squirrel project launched

An EU funded and National Lottery Sciurus Life project has been launched that will enable local communities across the north of England and Wales to become involved in conserving the red squirrel. The Sciurius Life project aims are to:

  • Develop mechanisms to prevent the unintentional introduction of grey squirrels to currently uncolonised woodland landscapes;
  • Develop early warning/rapid response mechanisms to ensure the island of Anglesey in North Wales is not recolonised;
  • Develop rapid response mechanisms to mitigate the impacts of grey squirrels in urban woodlands;
  • Develop early warning systems to detect greys in sparsely populated rural landscapes;
  • Develop more efficient strategic mechanisms to evolve community-based grey squirrel management;
  • Quantify the financial and community-based resources needed to achieve regional eradication;

Read more about their aims by clicking here.  It is vital that continued efforts to control greys in England and Wales occurs.  This will help the cause of our Highland red squirrels in the long run.

Leprosy threat

A study to find out how a form of leprosy is affecting the UK’s threatened red squirrels is to be carried out in Dorset.

The project on Brownsea Island aims to discover how the disease affects and is passed between native red squirrels.

Leprosy was first identified in red squirrels in Scotland in 2014.  You can read about this alarming story on the BBC.

Hopefully, this won’t affect our Highland red squirrels.  If you do see or hear of any unhealthy individuals, please do let us know.

Job opportunity

Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels are looking for an experienced Project Manager to manage their 7-month Heritage Lottery-funded Development Phase for their new 5-year SSRS Developing Community Action project. The post will be based in Edinburgh, and the successful candidate will work with them to develop the detailed five-year project activity plan and budget. Squirrel knowledge is not necessary, but knowledge of recruiting and supporting volunteers would be essential. Click here for more information

Watch out!

This is a great time of year to see mating chases of red squirrels in the woods.  You can see from this fabulous image by James A Moore of Black Isle Photography Hides that you can seem some remarkable acrobatics and some very fast moves!

Red squirrels will also start to repair or build their dreys in preparation for raising their families of kittens.  The female will wean 3-5 kittens in the drey which is located high up the tree and sometimes along a branch.  They usually build new dreys each year as the winter storms usually damage last year’s dreys.  The dreys are made up of sticks, twigs, leaves and lined with soft moss and feathers.

You can see from this video that they make some extraordinary noises too when they are chasing each other!

Ullapool kids help save red squirrels

This picture shows Roy Dennis in 2008 showing our group the recently translocated red squirrels at Dundonnell Estate.  Since then, the squirrels have spread far and wide and are now being seen in Ullapool, which is amazing!

Pupils from a school in the far north of Scotland festooned road signs with their own hand-drawn warnings after Transport Scotland contractors took down an unapproved one paid for by locals. The youngsters took action after several rare red squirrels were killed on the roads near Ullapool. Six have been killed on the A835 since the start of December.  Read this article about their campaign in the Scotsman to find out more.  Well done everyone in Ullapool and surrounds!