Reviving the red squirrel population
Threatened red squirrel numbers are thriving against the odds on one of Britain’s largest estates, after painstaking work by one of our dedicated rangers.
The population of red squirrels at Wallington, Northumberland, almost disappeared entirely in 2011 after grey squirrels moved into the area, bringing with them the deadly squirrel pox virus.
However, the estate is now home to over 150 red squirrels and is one of the most popular places to visit by tourists eager to spot the animal, made famous by Beatrix Potter’s Tale of Squirrel Nutkin.
Threatened by disease and a loss of habitat, red squirrel numbers have fallen in the UK from approximately 3.5 million and those that remain are constantly under threat from non-native greys. This week marks the beginning of Red Squirrel Awareness Week, designed to highlight the decline.
At Wallington, the project has not been plain sailing and invasions of grey squirrels have led to outbreaks of squirrel pox. But by responding quickly, our red squirrel ranger, Glen Graham, has helped the population of reds to recover and grow again.
Glen says, 'Looking after the reds has become more than a job, and it’s the animals and changing seasons which dictate my schedule. I’m delighted with the progress we’ve made here for red squirrels and hopefully, we can emulate this success at other sites across the country. The reds are so popular with tourists and locals alike, and form a key part of the UK’s woodlands landscape.'