New site for red squirrel sightings

David Leask's photograph 'Inquisitive Red Squirrel'
David Leask's photograph 'Inquisitive Red Squirrel'

A new website has been set up to help people record their sightings of red squirrels in Scotland.

Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels said the site would help its work to conserve the mammals.

People have been asked to upload their sightings using mobile phones because the GPS function on the devices will give an accurate location of the squirrel.

Since 1952, 95 per cent of red squirrels have been wiped out in England and Wales.

Scotland is now responsible for three-quarters of the UK’s reds.

It has been estimated that Scotland has about 120,000 red squirrels.

Diverse factors including disease, loss of habitat and competition for food from non-native grey squirrels have been blamed for the decline in reds.

One prime factor is the indigenous species’ susceptibility to squirrel pox, a devastating virus which the alien greys are immune to.

So far during this calendar year 107 sightings of reds and 59 greys have been recorded by Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels.

The umbrella organisation combines the conservation work of bodies including the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Land and Estates as well as the Red Squirrel Survival Trust.