Thursday 25 October 2018

Coquetdale red squirrels need your help........ without it they'll be extinct in 10 years.

I am sitting at Janet's kitchen table in Holystone in the Coquet Valley, North Northumberland. We are working on a project submission to the Aviva Community Fund.  The red squirrels in the forest here need funding to prevent their  imminent extinction. You can help to save them!

We submitted this story as stage 1 of an application for funding and now we are through to the second stage where you the public have to vote for us.

Fifty years ago people in the valley saw red squirrels on a daily basis. Today red squirrels are rarely seen because of the incursion of Eastern grey squirrels which were imported from the USA in the 19th century. The greys ( an invasive alien species) out compete the reds for food resources and introduce a lethal disease; squirrel pox, the greys are immune to this. Reds have been replaced by greys throughout Britain. We now have only an estimated 140,000 native red squirrels in in the UK with only 12,000 in England, sixty percent of these are in Northumberland.

The Coquetdale Red Squirrel Group have been trapping squirrels for ten years and eliminating the greys, "with extreme prejudice" as the CIA might say.  The work required to do this successfully is now too much for a small band of volunteers. We need a full or part-time Ranger to trap squirrels, train and motivate volunteers , monitor populations etc... If we won project funding (£10,000) it would enable us to do this for 6 months and evaluate the benefits and unforeseen costs. If successful could  then seek further finance by "crowd funding".

Our aim is to reduce the adult, fertile grey squirrel population by 60% each year.  Population modelling has shown that this is necessary to prevent the replacement of native red squirrels by greys. ( Rushton 2006 )

Selection of the winning projects depends on the number of online votes that each submission receives, first you must register on line,then cast your ten votes for a selection or only one of 59 projects in the "Environment" section. You must be a UK resident in order to vote.  So... please....... vote for our project, "Saving Coquetdale Red Squirrels"

Register, log in and place your 10 votes via this link

Voting is open to UK residents until 20th November 2018

Rushton et al (2006) . Disease threats posed by alien species; the role of pox virus in the decline of native red squirrels in Britain - Epidemiology and infection. Journal of Applied  Ecology, 37, 521 - 533

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