The native red squirrel Sciurus vulgaris, a UK priority species, has been replaced over most of England by the introduced grey squirrel Sciurus carolinensis. The red squirrel is now only found on the Isle of Wight and in parts of Northern England. The reasons for this appear to be that grey squirrels generally out-compete and spread disease to red squirrels.
The aim of this review is to assess the impact on red squirrel populations in the North of England of every organisation involved in developing and delivering red squirrel conservation policies and activities.
The review team looked at all relevant activities undertaken by these organisations since January 2006, critically assessed their approaches, and the impact of these on existing red squirrel populations.
The report confirms that red squirrels are still widely found throughout the North of England, and that the work carried out by the various organisations has played a significant role in ensuring that people can still see these mammals across a wide area.
The review provides a robust and objective assessment of some aspects of red squirrel conservation work and offers expert and timely advice for future work programmes. Control of grey squirrels is identified as a core part of any future strategy for red squirrel conservation.
The purpose of this report is to help Natural England and the other commissioning bodies:
- Understand what has been achieved over the past 3 years.
- Identify deficiencies in the current strategy and develop ways of being more cooperative and effective.
- Improve the way in which grey squirrel control, central to any red squirrel conservation project, is targeted and delivered.