Plea for Ellon’s red squirrels

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ELLON Biodiversity Action Group have issued a plea for information, after initial reports of grey squirrels in the town.

The town currently has a thriving population of red squirrels - which are native to the British isles - and work has been undertaken to safeguard their numbers by constructing special rope bridges across roads in the town. However, the presence of greys - imported from North America - threatens the population, due to diseases the greys carry which reds have no immunity to.

EBAG chairman Bob Davis told the Times: “The grey squirrel has been a real disaster for our own native species. Grey squirrels are larger and able to live in a wider range of habitats. Being bigger, they out-compete reds for food. But what is really bad is that grey squirrels harbour a disease known as squirrel pox virus, and they pass this onto red squirrels with fatal results. The disease does not normally kill greys, but when they come into contact with red squirrels and pass the disease on, that is the sad end of any red squirrel.

“Therefore it is important to keep grey squirrels out of areas where they do not live at present, and try and remove them from areas where they are common, to allow our native red squirrel to return and take up residence.

He added: “Ellon has a good population of reds but there have been reports of the occasional sighting of grey squirrels in and around the town, and that could be disastrous. EBAG is very keen to hear from anyone that can confirm that they have seen a grey - such information is extremely valuable.”

Anyone who sees a grey can contact Bob Davis by phone on 01358711292 or by e-mail at bob.b.davis@btinternet.com.