Page last updated at 11:28 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 12:28 UK

Map tracking grey squirrel threat

Grey squirrel
Greys are a major threat to the UK's native red squirrel

A map showing the areas of northern England where efforts are under way to control grey squirrels is being created to help protect under-threat reds.

The Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST) hopes it will allow them to better co-ordinate work by landowners, institutions and local volunteers.

A £40,000 control fund is also being set up to pay for trapping projects.

They aim to safeguard native reds in strongholds in Northumberland, Cumbria, North Yorkshire and Merseyside.

Natural England and the Forestry Commission are joining the trust in the two initiatives.

RSST director Joshua Perry said: "One big obstacle to red squirrel conservation in England is the lack of information about current grey squirrel control efforts.

"By mapping everyone's effort and providing funds for new projects we are laying the foundations of a future red squirrel strategy for northern England."

The North is thought to be home to 80% of England's native reds, but their numbers are low - estimated at between 20,000 and 30,000.

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