After years of endangerment, hope arises for the red squirrel.
The survival of the red squirrel has been a worrying battle since their decline during the 1950s in the UK, but wildlife trusts are helping to end this for good.
The red squirrel was a once-common resident of our country, a major part of our heritage and was always recognised by the citizens of our country. That was until the 1950s though. What we know of these harmless mammals today now brings on the possibility of extinction through multiple but, to many of us, evident causes.
This is ever since their opposing species- the grey squirrels, which were all native to North America at the time, were transported into the UK during the late 19th century. Since then, there has been a severely concerning drop in the population of red squirrels, starting from 3.5 million to as few as 140,000 left in the UK today.
This decline of the red squirrels is evidently a result of the species becoming outcompeted by their opposing rivals for food and natural resources, as well as another known contributing factor being damage to their habitat.
Although, one major element to blame for the red squirrels’ endangerment is the ‘squirrel parapox virus’ which is carried by the grey squirrels and passed on to the red squirrels. Sadly though, the reds are the ones who always pay the price for it and die within 15 days of catching the virus.
All these factors plus the dramatic drop resulting in the red squirrels’ endangerment has been the main cause as to why varied actions are being carried out in order to ‘tackle’ this national issue: Scotland seem to have a lead start with their methods consisting of collecting the red squirrels to be “relocated to new areas” which is known to be around 10 of them.
However, all these new locations are yet to be confirmed but the endangered mammals are to be collected from areas such as Inverness and Moray where the populations are considered “healthy.”
Action to save these harmless mammals may be under way, but where there’s a good, there’s a bad; the capturing, culling and killing of the grey squirrels as an attempt to protect the reds has become the most ideal option to many people.
“With red squirrel conservation, there’s also about putting feed boxes, monitoring squirrel Parapox virus, taking samples.” Replied Mr Adrian Vass of the Red squirrel Survival Trust (RSST). “One of the jobs I’m trying to do is develop a Parapox virus vaccine for red squirrels, using a genetic methodology” commented Mr Vass in response to the issue of the squirrel Parapox virus.
Although the future of the red squirrel is looking positive with every helping hand, the endangerment of them still remains a national issue.
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