A ground-breaking project aiming to safeguard the native red squirrel from extinction in Scotland is calling on the people of Aberdeen for assistance in locating new areas where these much-loved creatures are found.
The Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels project (SSRS) can confirm that red squirrels are popping up in parts of Aberdeen where they have been absent for many years and wants to hear of any other sites that are not yet on record.
The red squirrel is the UK’s only native squirrel and numbers have declined rapidly since the introduction of grey squirrels from North America in the 19th Century. Greys have replaced the native reds in much of the UK because they compete for food and habitat, and transmit the deadly squirrelpox virus.
Since 1952, 95% of red squirrels in England and Wales have been wiped out. Today, 75% of the UK’s remaining population is found in Scotland.
Thanks to continued funding from Aberdeen Greenspace, Biffa and Red Squirrel Survival Trust, an intensive trapping programme to remove the grey squirrel from parks and gardens across the city and its surrounding countryside has seen red squirrels become increasingly common in the west end of Aberdeen.
But, recent records indicate that red squirrels are moving even closer to the city centre.
Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels Northeast Project Officer, Steve Willis, said: “Since early June, the project has received reports of red squirrels in the middle of Bridge of Don, at Kincorth Hill, Craigiebuckler, and even dashing across North Anderson Drive in the morning rush hour.
“However, in order to build up an accurate picture of where red squirrels can be found across Aberdeen and how that population is shifting, we really need the public to be our eyes and ears and report their sightings.
“If you are out walking in the woods or just sitting in the garden, keep an eye out for squirrels.
“From early June the first litters of young squirrels have been dispersing from the woods where they were born.
“It’s looking like a great year for red squirrels, and as squirrels can breed twice a year there will probably be another flush of young ones in September.
“It only takes a moment to record your sighting on our website, and every record – of red or grey squirrels – is incredibly useful.
“It’s a quick and simple way to take part in some meaningful citizen science.”
Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels is a partnership project between the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates, and the Red Squirrel Survival Trust.
To learn more about the work in Aberdeen or to volunteer please contact Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels Northeast Project Officer, Steve Willis, via email on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01224 266526.