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Could we see the return of an old friend?

 
Created on 28/09/2020 @ 09:44
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Our wildlife is in trouble, but thanks to the efforts of dedicated conservationists there is a chance that we could see the return of a once popular animal to the Montgomeryshire countryside.

It is thought that the Red Squirrel was last spotted locally around 40-50 years ago, but concerted efforts to reintroduce the native species to our countryside have produced results in Radnorshire, one of only three significant populations in Wales.

The Red Squirrel became victim of the diseases brought in by the non-native invasive Grey Squirrel, as well as the destruction of local habitats.

But the Mid Wales Red Squirrel Partnership (MWRSP) was established in 2002 to expand and protect the unique population of Red Squirrels south of our borders, and a local wildlife group hopes that we can all contribute to seeing the population spread north.

“Red Squirrels were once very common, so very few people recorded them then,” a spokesperson for Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust told us.

“The majority of the records are very old (1950s to 1980s), so when they were last seen, is not easy to judge.

“Whilst the non-native invasive grey squirrel remains so numerous and the ‘Reds’ remain so susceptible to the squirrel pox virus, they are always going to struggle here.”

The reintroduction of the Pine Marten to Mid Wales forests in 2015 could also provide the ‘Reds’ with an unlikely ally in their bid for survival.

The Pine Martens tend to hunt ‘Greys’ whilst leaving the ‘Reds’ alone, providing a natural balancing act in the decades-old turf war.

“Much work is being done a bit further south, and with the spread of the reintroduced Pine Marten, which has been shown to be quite an effective predator of Grey Squirrels, we might see the tide start to turn,” said the spokesperson.

“They are most likely to start coming back from the southwest of the county, although there are populations in North Wales, as well.”

We can all play our part, and while support is urged for MWRSP, we can all look at our immediate surroundings.

“If people want to help Red Squirrels return to Montgomeryshire, we need to think about habitat,” said the spokesperson. “Habitats are still being destroyed/degraded in the area and yet we need to do the opposite.

“We need a well-connected, biodiverse landscape to help all our wildlife to thrive and ultimately for us too.”

To find out more about the current situation, and what more can be done, visit https://midwalesredsquirrels.org/about-us/.

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