The contribution made by landowners to the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels project was highlighted at the project’s fourth annual conference held earlier this week. Dr Mel Tonkin who leads on the project said that the grey squirrel trapping that many estates have undertaken through the SRDP has been a vital element in helping to maintain red squirrel distribution across Scotland.
The conference heard that the project had so far been successful in maintain red squirrel populations across Scotland and this had been achieved by suppressing the grey squirrel population and slowing the spread of the squirrel pox virus which still appears to be contained in southern Scotland. It was also noted that there was a real possibility of eradicating grey squirrels for the Aberdeen area and thus returning the north of Scotland above the Highland fault line to a reds only haven. However, on a more downbeat note, the project’s funding arrangements are not likely to continue on the current basis and new funding sources will need to be found in the near future if the situation is to be maintained and improved upon. The project is likely to need to considered enhanced private sector funding and greater voluntary support. Anyone interested in helping support the project can speak to Anne Gray at headquarters in the first instance.