Red squirrel population in Scotland remains stable – report

Support us and go ad-free

The red squirrel population across Scotland has remained stable in the last year, according to the latest survey report.

Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels has published its most recent figures which also indicate a continuing decline in grey squirrel territory in the north east.

In the south of Scotland – Dumfries and Galloway, the Scottish Borders and parts of Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire – the number of survey sites reporting red squirrels remained between 51-52%.

However, the number of sites with grey squirrels fell from 60% to 51% in the 2019 survey and the number of sites with only red squirrels increased from 29% to 34%.

Dr Mel Tonkin, project manager, said: “The small changes in favour of red squirrels in the south of Scotland are certainly promising, but survey results can fluctuate from year to year and we will need to gather more data in future years to determine a definite trend.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

“For now, we can say that red squirrel distributions in the region are stable.

“This is worth celebrating, and it is only possible thanks to ongoing work by volunteers, land managers and many others.

“However, we need to keep up the good work to hold onto our reds in the area and fend off the widespread grey squirrel threat.”

Grey squirrels, which were introduced to Britain from North America in the 19th century, can carry the squirrelpox virus that does not harm them – but is deadly to their red counterparts.

The survey is conducted with feeder boxes strategically placed in woodland areas and monitored by volunteers.

Red squirrel
The survey is conducted with feeder boxes strategically placed in woodland areas and monitored by volunteers (Jaclyn Sparks/PA)

When a squirrel visits one, a sticky tab collects some of its hair so the species can then be identified under a microscope.

Tonkin added: “The overall trend is also looking very positive in the north east and central lowlands.

“Although the 2019 results showed a small change in favour of grey squirrels when compared to the previous year, overall there has been a significant shift in favour of red squirrels since the surveys began, currently occupying 75% of survey sites.

“Focusing in on the Aberdeenshire results, grey squirrel populations have continued their retreat and are now largely limited to Aberdeen City.

“Here, city residents have been reporting red squirrels turning up in increasing numbers of parks and gardens.”

The 2019 Squirrel Survey report can be viewed here.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us