Volunteers needed to help Londonderry’s red squirrels survive

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Ulster Wildlife is appealing for volunteers to help protect one of the last remaining strongholds of red squirrels in Londonderry.

A survey carried out by the charity last year, revealed significant sightings of reds in woodland areas in the city, urban gardens and, unusually, in the City Cemetery, sparking fresh hope for this endangered mammal which has been pushed out by the invasive non-native grey squirrel.

To give the cityside reds a fighting chance of survival, the charity plans to establish a new red squirrel volunteer group and has organised a workshop at Creggan Country Park on Thursday, 22 February at 7pm for anyone interested in helping with conservation efforts.

Volunteers are needed to monitor red squirrels using camera traps and feeders, and to gather information about where reds are nesting and breeding, so that these areas can be protected. Volunteers are also sought to help prevent the further spread of invasive greys moving into areas of the city that could threaten red squirrel populations.

Caroline Finlay, Red Squirrel Officer for Londonderry said: “We are still fortunate to have a sizable population of red squirrels in the city, but without active conservation this much-loved creature could be lost within a generation.

“Problems arise because grey squirrels out-compete reds for food and places to live, pushing them into areas where they find it more difficult to survive. Greys also transmit a deadly disease which kills reds.

“Volunteers play a crucial role in enabling red squirrels to thrive.”

Members of the public who live in the city are being urged to help too by reporting sightings of both red and grey squirrels visiting their gardens.

To find out more and to report squirrel sightings in the city, contact Caroline Finlay at caroline.finlay@ulsterwildlife.org.

Visit www.ulsterwildlife.org/redsquirrels for further details.