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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 November 2005, 09:34 GMT
Optimism over red squirrel future
red squirrel
The number of red squirrels is also rising in the area
Conservationists say they are optimistic about the future of red squirrels in part of Cumbria.

Red squirrels are under threat around the UK from the spread of squirrel pox virus which is relatively harmless to the expanding grey squirrel population.

Bev Dennison, who helps co-ordinate a feeding programme in the Grasmere area, said he believes there are three red squirrel colonies there.

But he said the number of greys had also gone up.

Mr Dennison said: "We have been very optimistic. We started off at the beginning of year with sightings and we knew they were still here, but we really didn't know how many there were or where they were.

'Rising awareness'

"So since that point in time we have put feeders around the valley and we have established that there are actually three colonies."

He said he thought there were about 30 to 40 in the valley area, including young ones.

There is a programme to control the numbers of greys, including shooting and trapping, but he said the numbers were still rising.

He said: "The population is increasing and it is a great worry for us because all the greys could be carrying the virus.

"If they come in contact with the reds then of course it will be an immediate demise of the red population again."

He said the rise and awareness of red squirrels in the area was heartening.




SEE ALSO:
Pet drug may halt squirrel virus
15 Sep 05 |  Cumbria


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