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Last Updated: Monday, 1 March, 2004, 11:31 GMT
Bridge saves courting squirrels
Red Squirrel
Red Squirrels become "preoccupied" while courting
A rope bridge has been built over a busy road to stop romantic red squirrels meeting a tragic end.

It will be suspended across Moor Lane at Ince Blundell near Formby, Merseyside, to help the endangered species cross to safety.

Formby is a major sanctuary for the animal and a series of rope bridges are being installed by the Highways Agency.

The bridges are part of the maintenance work carried out by the agency in the woods alongside the road.

Red squirrels appear not to have heeded the lesson of Tufty the squirrel, the star of road safety public information films in the 1960s and 1970s.

He warned children not cross the road without their mother or father, but modern squirrels have been less circumspect.

Tufty the Squirrel (Crown Copyright)
Squirrels have not heeded Tufty's advice

The Highways Agency said the endangered animals were often killed when they became "preoccupied" during the main breeding season.

A spokesperson said: "Squirrels have great agility when leaping between tree branches but on the ground they run and leap in short bursts, pausing frequently to take stock, which leaves them vulnerable when crossing the road.

"January and February is the main breeding season for red squirrels which makes them even more susceptible as they become preoccupied during the courtship ritual."

Fiona Robertson, of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, said: "Formby is one the red squirrels' remaining footholds and we are pleased to be able to work with the Highways Agency to help these precious creatures survive."

The rope bridge runs across the A565 at Moor Lane in Ince Blundell, near Formby.

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