Red and grey squirrels in the North-East

Jason Reynolds

I was appointed as Red Squirrel Conservation Officer in August 1999. This is the first time that a full-time officer has worked in the North East. Funding of £125000 for three years has been secured from Northumbrian Water Environmental Trust. English Nature’s Species Recovery Programe is also providing £15000 over three years.

The project is focussed upon the Red/Grey interface throughout the north of County Durham and southern Northumberland.The area contains some large (200+ha) conifer blocks, and these are where efforts are focussed. We are not attempting to prevent the grey from spreading across a wide front as this is not thought possible. The Red Alert North East approach is to identify key woodlands and then work in and around those to ensure the reds persist. This is being delivered through long term forest design plans, grey squirrel control and monitoring work. Public participation is encouraged, generating over 3500 sightings in the first year. This enabled the project to quickly get an idea of current red and grey distributions in our region.

We are currently collecting grey squirrel blood samples in order to accurately map parapox outbreak zones and ‘high risk’ areas. University undergraduates are also encouraged to carry out research projects in the area to improve our knowledge on squirrel biology and management.

My contact details are as follows:Jason Reynolds,Red Squirrel Conservation Officer,Durham Wildlife Trust, Rainton Meadows,Chilton Moor,Houghton-le-Spring,Tyne & Wear,DH4 6PU. Tel 0191 584 3112. Fax 0191 584 3934. e-mail: 

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