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Morpeth and District Red Squirrels (MAD RS)

Project location: North East | Northumberland | Morpeth

Part of the Clusters: Project Dirt

Type: Informal community project | @MADRS5

Wildlife & Conservation

Latest Activity: 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Created: Monday May 14, 2018

Members: 2

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Morpeth and District Red Squirrels (MAD RS) is a small voluntary group, formed in 2012. Our aim is to protect and preserve native red squirrels within Morpeth and the surrounding area.

Northumberland is fortunate to have red squirrels living in woodlands and gardens within the county. We provide information and support to local residents who wish to encourage the animals, giving food and feeders for use in gardens, and issuing a newsletter each quarter with information of what we have been doing. We have a mobile phone and an email address to which people report sightings of red and grey squirrels.

Unfortunately grey squirrels are a constant threat to the species. Greys can out-compete for food supplies, being able to eat nuts and fruit before they are ripe whereas the reds cannot digest unripe food. Greys carry a virus to which they are immune but which can kill reds within weeks. The two species cannot live side by side. Greys also pose a threat to wild birds, eating eggs and nestlings, and they will strip bark from trees, causing serious damage within woodland.

It is our experience that the single most effective way of protecting red squirrels is to control the population of greys. In areas where greys have been cleared reds are gradually re-establishing themselves. We have a group of volunteers who are dedicated to grey control but this a very time consuming task. We use humane traps, to avoid hurting any animal which may be caught, and they are checked daily to ensure no animal is left for any length of time. Despite the dedication of our volunteers there are limits to the amount of time they are able to devote to the work. For the last two years we have been fortunate to secure funding to pay a ranger sessional payments to develop a systematic and strategic programme of grey control in targeted areas. As a result of this reds have now been reported at locations in and around Morpeth where they had not been seen before.

The grant provided by Greggs will be used to consolidate this work during 2018. Our ranger works closely with our volunteers, and with neighbouring voluntary groups, to respond to sightings and monitor grey squirrel activity. We have the support of Northumberland County Council, local landowners and farmers, who give permission for trapping on their land. Without this work there is no doubt the native red squirrels would no longer thrive in the area and we are most grateful to Greggs for allowing it to continue. 

Morpeth and District Red Squirrels (MAD RS)

North East | Northumberland | Morpeth


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Project Dirt

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