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Yorkshire Dales volunteers hunt for red squirrels

[Wednesday 04 April 2007]
red squirrel
Survey of Dales squirrels

A NEW drive is underway to learn more about the distribution of red squirrels in the Yorkshire Dales.

Over a period of several months Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) officers and local volunteers will be setting up survey equipment in different areas to see if red squirrels live there.

It's known that there is a colony of reds in the Hawes area, but little is known about their distribution in other areas of the Dales.

The shy creatures are constantly under threat from their grey cousins, who are larger and more aggressive and carry a disease that is harmless to greys but has wiped out thousands of reds.

The surveys - part of a continuing drive to conserve the reds - include putting down hair tubes which painlessly collect samples of hair from squirrels so staff can find out which species they are.

YDNPA Wildlife Conservation Officer Ian Court said: "It's important from a management point of view to know where the red squirrel populations are.

"We recently carried out a study in the North West section of the National Park and it's very encouraging that, in several of the core red squirrel woodlands we surveyed, there was no sign of greys.

"But we don't have many records for other, nearby woodlands, which is why we undertaking this work.

"We are hoping to pick up signs of more reds and get a better idea of the distribution of greys so that we have a clearer picture of the populations of both species."

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