A real threat to Dumfries and Galloways thriving Red Squirrel population could be an environmental disaster  as a north of England group that protect Red Squirrels in their region are possibly being forced to cut number and/or hours of contractors they deploy.

Penrith and District Red Squirrel group (P&DRSG) in the North of England have always been looked upon as guardians of Scotland’s southern boundary as far as the advance of the non-native grey squirrel is concerned.


Brian Fishwick from Glenkens red squirrel group told DGWGO  “Currently, there is a real risk that the Penrith group may have to consider making reductions in the number and/or hours of contractors they deploy as red squirrel rangers to keep the advancing alien grey squirrel numbers in check. Vast numbers of greys are annually removed by these rangers, supported by their unpaid volunteers. In fact, I would say the P&DRSG have set the benchmark for modern grey squirrel control.
If the greys are not kept in check and are allowed to breed; their numbers will rapidly increase and put further pressure on the small pockets of native red squirrels hanging on to survival in the borders and Dumfries and Galloway. Squirrels unfortunately do not acknowledge any political borders and will likely be queuing up to cross into Scotland’s prime woodlands and forests!
The P&DRSG rely solely on financial support from their membership scheme, people who enjoy seeing red squirrels and limited funding from sponsors and benefactors. This has enabled them to undertake their valuable work over many years. As of yet there is no scientific evidence as to the possible effect their work has on the Scottish red squirrel however as a grey squirrel controller in Galloway, my personal view is it will be devastating to our red squirrel populations if this work diminishes.
Aside from trapping and shooting there are no other legal methods of grey squirrel control; the much vaunted contraceptive is still at least five years away then there will be further work testing the distribution methods of such, so more likely ten years – at the present rate that will be too late. The predator pine marten often looked at as the “silver bullet” when it comes to grey squirrel control are likely to do as much harm to a struggling population of red squirrels. Pine marten populations are presently on the increase across Scotland and have been sighted in Northern England at several sites. A hungry pine marten will not decline a meal just because it is the wrong colour!
I am not a scientist and have no theoretical answers, I am a practical controller of grey squirrels and a passionate conservationist of red squirrels.
For the few remaining individuals who are not aware of the problems caused by grey squirrels to the red squirrels, native bird species and timber production; I say take a moment to look up the information and make up your own mind.
In the meantime, anyone willing to support P&DRSG or our own squirrels in Scotland please urgently contact either Penrith & District Red Squirrel Group ([email protected]) or Glenkens red squirrel group in Scotland.
Please remember – a good percentage of grey squirrel control is done by volunteers however a band of paid controllers working full time (and very hard) as I know they do, makes a huge difference to the numbers removed and ultimately invading Scotland. On behalf of the UK’s surviving red squirrels, thank you.”
Brain also stated “All opinions and figures stated above are purely my own and have no reflection on SSRS or P&DRSG.”

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