News from Tresco is that the squirrels are settling in extremely well... I hope to bring you some photos taken by the residents over there in the coming weeks, but for now I have posted the official press release from the Countryside Restoration Trust who initiated this project. We have had a lot of good feedback, and enquiries, over the last few days thanks to this little project.
"The Countryside Restoration Trust (CRT) has just played an important part in setting up a new Red Squirrel population on the island of Tresco in the Isles of Scilly. The CRT was instrumental in arranging conservation collaboration between Tresco Island, the British Wildlife Centre, in Surrey, and the Royal Naval Air Service at Culdrose, in Cornwall.
Chairman of the CRT Robin Page says: “It has been a fantastic operation. Last week a Sea King helicopter from the RNAS at Culdrose dropped off red squirrels at Tresco as part of a training flight. Helicopters from Culdrose fly close to the Scillies virtually every day and so a red squirrel drop made sense for everybody – especially the squirrels – saving them the stress of a long sea journey. There are now 20 red squirrels on Tresco. They settled in quickly and have already been released. With comfortable squirrel boxes erected in trees and feeding stations to ensure adequate early food, the initial signs are very promising.
This is so important for red squirrel conservation and if successful the Tresco red squirrel introduction could set the standard elsewhere. Other islands such as Mull and the Isle of Man, with no grey squirrels, like Tresco, would seem ideal for red squirrels. Nearer to the CRT’s headquarters in Cambridgeshire, I believe that there is a large area of East Anglia, in Norfolk and Suffolk that could be cleared of grey squirrels to make a realistic red squirrel re-introduction possible”.
Mike Nelhams, Curator of Tresco Abbey Garden says: “Red squirrels seem to be quite sociable little creatures and have settled in well. If breeding takes place in the spring then it is possible that Tresco could supply squirrels for the attempt to re-introduce red squirrels to Cornwall. It is all very exciting”.
David Mills from the British Wildlife Centre says: “The whole thing has worked very well and if the introduction proves successful we hope that this can trigger more special projects. At the British Wildlife Centre we captive breed red squirrels. It is fantastic that they can then be released safely into the wild. The red squirrel needs all the help it can get and we are delighted to give it a helping hand on Tresco. If the opportunity arises to put red squirrels on Mull, and the Isle of Man, we will be very keen to help”.
The red squirrel is one of the most endangered wildlife species in Britain. It is at risk because of habitat loss, the advance of the grey squirrel which is more aggressive and which also passes on squirrel pox, almost harmless to greys and fatal to red squirrels, and inadequate grey squirrel control courtesy of Defra, English Nature and “conservation” charities such as the RSPB, the National Trust and the Woodland Trust.
The current British population of the red squirrel is about 140,000. The grey squirrel population is almost certainly close to 3 million."