We've just released our spring 2015 monitoring report. Firstly, a massive thank you to all our volunteers for your efforts…we have once again completed our programme of squirrel surveys across northern England. 290 sites surveyed by 148 people in 13 weeks. Huge! We cannot understate what a gigantic team effort this has been once more.
Red squirrels were detected in 43.7% of all surveys (127 out of 290), which is a good result, although slightly disappointing compared to the massive 53.6% in 2014. In contrast detection of greys increased from 38.4% in 2014 to 46.5% (135 out of 290) this year.
We predicted this before the programme started, so the good result for greys is not at all unexpected. Many of you will be able to testify that greys are abundant this year, and I hope you agree that the survey results do reflect the actual picture.
A second mild winter, and an incredible natural food crop, particularly of beech and hazel, has led to extremely favourable conditions for greys. In this context, it is a great result that red detection only dropped slightly. No doubt this is down to the hard work of so many people involved in red squirrel conservation, removing grey squirrels, and creating the space for reds. Without such intervention, greys gain the competitive edge to the detriment of red populations, as has been the pattern for so many years.
One of the strengths of a standardised survey programme is that we can be confident that results will pick up patterns, and that these patterns will change over time. We are certainly not panicking over these results, and firmly believe it is an entirely natural fluctuation.
We are also really pleased with the range maps created from all sources of data, and thank everyone for their part in this. Demonstrating red range in a massive 378 tetrads within three months is a fantastic result. Greys were recorded in 552 tetrads. This shows the scale of the conservation effort, as much of this data comes from grey squirrel control work, which continues to grow. A big thank you to the Garfield Weston Foundation, Heritage Lottery fund, Furness Building Society and Nurture Lakeland for funding this important work.
Read the full report on our website by clicking here