Page last updated at 16:28 GMT, Saturday, 19 September 2009 17:28 UK

Squirrel report calls for surveys

Red Squirrel
Red Squirrels are under-threat in Britain

Detailed monitoring of grey squirrels needs to take place to help protect under-threat reds in their strongholds in northern England, a report has said.

The Forestry Commission and Natural England review also calls for greater co-operation between the various groups aiming to conserve red squirrels.

The North is thought to be home to 80% of England's native reds, with Cumbria and Northumbria major strongholds.

But their numbers are low - estimated at between 20,000 and 30,000.

Reds are weaker than grey squirrels, which also carry the squirrelpox virus.

Tony Laws, Natural England's area manager for the North East region, said: "This report will not only help refresh the existing red squirrel conservation work in northern England but provides a new sense of purpose and provides information on which to base a strong strategy for the future.

"It is clear that adequate resources are needed for red squirrel conservation, that the excellent work of organisations involved in this work needs greater integration and coordination, and that we need to be better at measuring what has been achieved."

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