National park visitors urged to take part in red squirrels survey

Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park authorities are asking the public for help to monitor red squirrels

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Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is asking for visitors and residents to help monitor endangered red squirrels in the area.
Scotland’s first national park is working with the Heritage Lottery-funded Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels project launched by the Scottish Wildlife Trust to protect and strengthen the red squirrel population within the park.
Members of the public are being asked to help by reporting sightings of both red squirrels and their grey cousins online.
It is the larger grey squirrels which are largely responsible of the endangerment of the red, as they compete for food and space, and also carry squirrelpox, which is often fatal to the red squirrels.
Protecting the red squirrels is one of the park’s five ‘Wild Challenges’ for Wild Park 2020, the park authority’s biodiversity action plan.
Alan Bell, conservation manager at Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, said: ‘We are working to protect our red squirrels and by creating good habitats free of grey squirrels we are also encouraging them back into areas where they haven’t been in a while.
‘The annual survey helps us to identify where red squirrels and grey squirrels are and helps us to know where to focus our efforts.’
The survey is now under way using feeder boxes to identify the areas where the red and grey squirrels are in the park.
Mary-Anne Collis, Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels project officer for Argyll, Trossachs and Stirlingshire, said: ‘Having almost 40 different areas that we are checking both in and around the national park means more than 200kg of peanuts were delivered to help entice the squirrels to come and say hello.
‘We really rely on locals and visitors to let us know what is happening so that we can focus our efforts where they are needed.
‘There are still some areas where you can find both red and grey squirrels and that includes some areas of the national park.
‘While the majority of the squirrels spotted are red there are still a few grey ones, particularly on the southern edges of the park.
‘We are very keen to know what squirrels are about and would love people to record their sightings of both red and grey squirrels on our website.’
To report a sighting of red squirrels go to scottishsquirrels.org.uk