BASC Scotland to advise groups on grey squirrel control

Red squirrel conservation groups have joined forces with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) to protect the species from extinction in Scotland.

One of the co-ordinators from a red squirrel group in Perthshire asked BASC Scotland’s Gamekeeping and Wildlife Management Committee (GWMC) to develop a training package to help them control grey squirrel numbers.

This package will include training in all aspects of control including legislation, identification, trapping methods and humane despatch and will initially be trialled in the Pitlochry area.

Chairman of BASC Scotland’s GWMC, Stuart Waugh, said: “Red squirrels are an iconic native species and we must protect this fragile population. Squirrel-pox virus, carried and spread by grey squirrels, has now broken out in the south of Scotland and can kill red squirrels within two weeks. Until researchers can develop a non-lethal method of control, trapping is the only viable method to keep the greys at bay.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

• Scotland has a red squirrel population of approx 121,000, 75% of the UK population.

• A national project “Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels (SSRS)”, which is a partnership between Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) and the Scottish Rural Property and Business Association (SRPBA) and supported by the Scottish Government, is underway to save the red squirrel population of Scotland. The aim of the initiative is to secure red squirrel populations in all of the areas that they currently occupy in Scotland and provide a basis for successful expansion in future.

• If you can make a contribution to saving Scotland’s threatened red squirrels by monitoring numbers or supporting grey control or would like information on funding through the SRDP scheme, please visit the www.perthkinrossredsquirrels.co.uk or www.angusredsquirrels.co.uk or e-mail Ken Neil Project officer (East) Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels on redsquirrel.project@dundeecity.gov.uk.

• For more information please contact BASC Scotland on 01350 723226