In Search of the Red Squirrel

The Red Squirrel Survival Trust is encouraging people to get out and about in Cumbria, as it is one of the few places left in the UK where you can spot a Red Squirrel in its native habitat.

Since emerging from lockdown, we have been able to venture for longer and further to enjoy our great British outdoors. Being out in the countryside, you may have been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one of our most treasured native species – a red squirrel. If you haven’t been so lucky, the Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST) is encouraging the people to get out and explore this beautiful rural region in search of these increasingly elusive creatures.

Neville Gill

The Red Squirrel Survival Trust exists to protect the endangered red squirrel, which is facing extinction within 10 years. The spread of the non-native and regretfully more familiar grey squirrel has led to woodland damage and the shrinking of habitats where red squirrels currently thrive. The RSST focuses its conservation efforts on the areas where reds are under threat, which include Cumbria, Northern England and South Scotland in particular.

For example, if you live in the Scottish Highlands, Anglesey in Wales, the eastern part of Ireland, the Isle of Wight, the Lake District or near the pine forests of Northumberland, you have the highest chance of seeing one of these delightful creatures. This is because the population still has a stronghold in these areas compared to other parts of the British Isles, thanks to the lower numbers of grey squirrels present there.

Vanessa Fawcett, Campaign Director of The Red Squirrel Survival Trust

Vanessa Fawcett, Campaign Director of The Red Squirrel Survival Trust gives further details:

“As a charitable organisation, RSST relies on the public’s generous support to carry on its good work. In these tough times, without government funding, now more than ever the charity relies on regular donations to develop efforts in essential research,native woodland preservation, the restoration of biodiversity and public awareness of these issues, all to help red squirrels flourish.”

“As we venture out after the pandemic and get to enjoy our freedom again, more of us will be exploring our stunning natural UK habitats. What we in RSST want to do is raise awareness of the plight of these beloved creatures, so if you are fortunate enough to spot one, we would love you to take a picture and share it with us on our Instagram page.

“This is how together we can help build knowledge of our cause. We would also like to say a big thank you to everyone who has become a ‘Friend’, as your support and donation really does make a difference to us being able to protect this treasured species for future generations.”

Longer term the RSST aspires to re-establish red squirrel populations elsewhere around the country as shockingly, without help, the red squirrel could vanish from England within the next decade. So, whether you are going walking in remote woodlands, exploring dell to fell, or visiting a National Trust property as they re-open, the RSST wants to encourage the nation to go squirrel spotting.

The Friends of the RSST was set up to ensure anyone who wants to help our native species recover can do so easily. Three levels of friendship support are available – individual from £3 a month, family from £5 a month and corporate £120 annually. For young members, for whom it is so important that the red survives to the next generation, membership is just £10 a year.

Red Squirrel Survival Trust

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