Volunteers sought to help red squirrels thrive in Derry~Londonderry

Thursday 8th February 2018

Red squirrel (c) Christine Cassidy Red squirrel (c) Christine Cassidy

Ulster Wildlife is appealing for volunteers to help protect one of the last remaining strongholds of red squirrels in Derry~Londonderry.

A survey carried out by the charity last year, revealed significant sightings of reds in woodland areas in the city, urban gardens and, unusually, in the City Cemetery, sparking fresh hope for this endangered mammal which has been pushed out by the invasive non-native grey squirrel.

To give the city-side reds a fighting chance of survival, the charity plans to establish a new red squirrel volunteer group and has organised a workshop at Creggan Country Park on 22 February at 7 pm for anyone interested in helping with conservation efforts.

Volunteers are needed to monitor red squirrels using camera traps and feeders and to gather information about where reds are nesting and breeding so that these areas can be protected. Volunteers are also sought to help prevent the further spread of invasive greys moving into areas of the city that could threaten red squirrel populations.

We are still fortunate to have a sizable population of red squirrels in the city but, without active conservation, this much-loved creature could be lost within a generation. 

Caroline Finlay, Red Squirrel Officer for Derry~Londonderry said: “We are still fortunate to have a sizable population of red squirrels in the city but, without active conservation, this much-loved creature could be lost within a generation.

“Problems arise because grey squirrels out-compete reds for food and places to live, pushing them into areas where they find it more difficult to survive. Greys also transmit a deadly disease which kills reds.

“Volunteers play a crucial role in enabling red squirrels to thrive, as clearly shown by the vital conservation work carried out by North West Red Squirrel Group and Wild Inishowen. By establishing a similar network of volunteers in the city-side, we can help give our reds a fighting chance of survival and make the North West a stronghold for these iconic creatures in the future.”

Members of the public who live in the city are being urged to help too by reporting sightings of both red and grey squirrels visiting their gardens.

To find out more and to report squirrel sightings in the city, contact Caroline Finlay at caroline.finlay@ulsterwildlife.org.

In Northern Ireland, Ulster Wildlife is working in four red squirrel strongholds, including the North West, to help protect this endangered native species as part of Red Squirrels United - a UK-wide network supported by Heritage Lottery Fund, LIFE and NI Environment Agency. 

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Tagged with: Species, Conservation, Derry, Londonderry, Red squirrels, Volunteers