Volunteers sought to help red squirrels thrive in West Tyrone

Thursday 22nd February 2018

Red squirrel (c) Desmond LoughreyRed squirrel (c) Desmond Loughrey

Ulster Wildlife is appealing for volunteers to help protect remaining strongholds of red squirrels in West Tyrone.

A survey carried out by the charity last year, revealed significant sightings of reds in woodland areas across the area sparking fresh hope for this endangered mammal. However, the survey also sadly showed that red squirrels are absent from many local forests, particularly near Omagh and in the wider Strule and Mourne Valley, having been pushed out by the invasive non-native grey squirrel.

To help give Tyrone's reds a fighting chance of survival, the charity plans to establish a new red squirrel volunteer group and has organised a workshop at Omagh Library on Wednesday 28 February at 7.00pm 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 woodlands that could threaten red squirrel populations.

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

 

Michael Stinson, Red Squirrel Officer for West Tyrone said: “We are still fortunate to have a sizable population of red squirrels in the area 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 Red Squirrel groups elsewhere, including in nearby Fermanagh. By establishing a similar network of volunteers in the West Tyrone, we can help give our reds a fighting chance of survival and make the area a stronghold for these iconic creatures in the future.”

Members of the public who live in West Tyrone 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, contact Michael Stinson on 07816 065 909 or email michael.stinson@ulsterwildlife.org.

Ulster Wildlife is working in four key red squirrel strongholds, including the West Tyrone area, 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, Omagh, Red squirrels, Red Squirrels United, Volunteers, West Tyrone