We have just published the results of our fifth annual red and grey squirrel survey, which has shown that red squirrels can still be found widely across the north of England, with populations in seven counties.
For the first time since the annual survey began in 2012, last year found grey squirrels present in more sites than reds. RSNE is delighted to report that this has been reversed, with red squirrels detected in more sites than greys in 2016. Factors such as wet weather and a lack of natural foods favoured by grey squirrels such as beech nuts and acorns in autumn 2015 are likely to have influenced the result, coupled with a huge conversation effort by RSNE staff, private estates and hundreds of community volunteers across the north of England working together to protect red squirrels.
This year’s results have shown that red squirrel range has remained stable from last year, with 44% of sites surveyed containing the rare mammal. Grey squirrels have fared poorer having been found in only 37% of sites, compared to 47% of sites last year. This result follows two successive years of grey squirrel range expansion and provides some welcome news for the thousands of people involved in red squirrel conservation across the north of England.
Nick Mason, RSNE Project Manager, said, ‘We are really pleased by the fantastic news that red squirrels have remained stable since the last survey, having been a little concerned by the rise in greys over the last two years. There are lots of opportunities to see red squirrels and I would really encourage everyone to go and see them in the wild for themselves. This monitoring programme would not be possible without the help of over 140 volunteers who each year are willing to carry out surveys and we are really grateful for their help. These results help us to understand the natural fluctuations in both red and grey squirrel populations and it is really important that we carry on this study into the future to help us assess the impact of conservation measures for red squirrels.’