SOUTH of Scotland MSP Jim Hume is seeking a cross party meeting with the Environment Minister on the way forward for the red squirrel population in the Borders.
The meeting request has come about following the devastating impact of the Squirrel Pox Virus on the red squirrel population at Paxton last winter.
The MSP has said that if Scotland is to protect its population of 120,000 red squirrels, tackling the threat of SQPV infected grey squirrels is paramount.
Mr Hume said: “Competition and disease from grey squirrels had a devastating effect on red squirrels at Paxton, and it was heartbreaking to see the population wiped out last winter.
“It will key for landowners and environmental agencies to work together to prevent further losses and thereafter to get on with repopulating habitats.
“Government has a key role to play and that’s why I intend to raise the issue urgently with the Environment Minister in a meeting.” After its red squirrel population was killed off in just a matter of weeks at the end of 2011, Paxton House got involved with the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrel Project, alongside the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates and the Red Squirrel Survival Trust.
The second annual Red Squirrel Cross-Border Conference took place in November.