Red Squirrel

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alancleaver/

A red squirrel has been sighted in a back garden in Gwynedd.

Not only is it pleasing for wildlife enthusiasts to spot this shy, native creature but this is a momentous sighting for the species!

Sightings outside of reserves are all too few and far between. Campaigners, such as the Red Squirrels Trust Wales have been working hard for many years to increase the numbers of red squirrels in the North Wales area.

You can spot red squirrels in Anglesey’s woodland. The presence of this endangered, UK native and vibrantly coloured squirrel has even boosted tourism for Anglesey; however it is unusual to have sightings of red squirrels as far inland as Llanberis, which is where this sighting occurred!

There has been a slight increase in sightings of Red squirrels in places such as Bangor and Caernarfon and this is due to red squirrels crossing to mainland North Wales roughly four years ago. There is a red squirrel reserve in Menai Bridge and this is where they have come across form. The sighting in Llanberis is the first time a red squirrel sighting has been reported so far inland in North Wales for quite some time.

Campaigners are very encouraged by this recent sighting. It provides evidence that red squirrel populations are improving and spreading in terms of their locations. It is also evidence that the trust’s hard work is giving the desired results. They have headed various campaigns and projects in addition to their regular work of protecting the red squirrel population.

One of their biggest threats is the presence of larger, non native, grey squirrels. They are a big competition for resources.

It has taken a long time for the red squirrel to begin recovering after suffering from a severe decline in the 80s. Even in Anglesey red squirrels were close to extinction in 1997 and there were less than 40 breeding adults on the whole island. Fortunately now there are over 400 recorded and they have moved into Snowdonia’s woodland too.

The Red Squirrels Trust in Wales works closely with local businesses, the local communities near squirrel populations, landowners and volunteers to help the squirrels. Much of the work that helps squirrel populations the most is improving their woodland habitats, supplementing their food and creating nests for them.

‘Painting the Town Red’ was one of the projects that is most likely to have contributed to the successful spread of the red squirrels into Snowdonia. It involved controlling the grey squirrel population in the areas surrounding Bangor, encompassing approximately 90km2. The small population in Faenol woodlands has hopefully spread across resulting in this new sighting in Snowdonia recently.

This is a great step forward for red squirrels in Wales and for the native wildlife of the UK in general. Keep a look out for red squirrels in Snowdonia’s woodland and you can report your sightings.

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