Online Event – Red Squirrels: Help from a Predator?

Online Event - Red Squirrels: Help from a Predator?
Pine marten cr M Flynn

The Galloway Glens’ programme of ‘Natural World’ online events is continuing, with the next focussing on Red Squirrels and considering whether a predator can actually support the survival of this iconic native species.

Dumfries & Galloway has a reputation as a happy home for Red Squirrels but all is not well. The native red is under extreme threat, principally due to competition with the non-native and invasive grey squirrel and the added pressure of the squirrelpox disease carried by greys.

Work is underway right now by a partnership of agencies, local communities and hundreds of volunteers right across the region to turn the tide and the red has already been making a comeback in a number of different areas in Dumfries & Galloway. All avenues are being considered to stop this species facing a bleak future.

The pine marten is a native tree-climbing member of the weasel family, now in recovery from persecution, which preys on squirrels (amongst other things) and research has suggested that the introduced grey squirrel is poorly adapted to evade the marten and suffers disproportionately from predation. So, is this part of the answer to slowing down or even reversing the march of the grey squirrel?

At 7.30pm on 17th of August, The Galloway Glens Scheme will be hosting an online event starring experts from the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrel’s project and local volunteers from right here in Galloway to explore this topic further. Book your free ticket here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/red-squirrels-help-from-a-predator-tickets-136416707043 or search ‘Galloway Glens’ on www.eventbrite.co.uk.

The event will be hosted by Galloway Glens Project Officer, Nick Chisholm. Nick said:

Red squirrels have a special place in the heart of everyone – indeed, for may they are the emblem of native woodlands. This once common mammal was present across the whole of the British Isles but comparatively few strongholds are left, with Galloway being one. I am delighted that the Galloway Glens Scheme has been able to provide resources to help the band of dedicated squirrel volunteers in our area who are busy educating the public and removing threats whenever they can.”

Giuliana Sinclair, Community Engagement Officer for Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels, said:

“We are looking forward to showcasing the work that communities and local volunteers right across Dumfries & Galloway have been carrying out to save the much-loved red squirrel. Thanks to their efforts we are already beginning to see red squirrels making a comeback in many areas previously dominated by greys, which gives us a hope for a brighter future for our native red.”

Peter Garson, Chairman of Gatehouse Squirrel Group, added:

“We are monitoring our patch in the Stewartry. There are greys here and we have had our first deaths from squirrelpox amongst our reds in the last two years. But we seem to be detecting pine martens more often, which should help to stem the tide.”

The event is being hosted by the Galloway Glens Scheme, an initiative primarily funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with support from a range of partners including Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Environment Team.