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Monday, 21 August, 2000, 05:17 GMT 06:17 UK
Moves to ensure red is not dead
Red squirrel
Conservation officers are to look after red squirrels
New moves to protect Scotland's endangered population of red squirrels are to be announced.

Red squirrels are being driven out of their natural habitats by grey squirrels, which are regarded as being vermin.

But now the first conservation officer dedicated to looking after the little animals is to be appointed to spearhead the fightback.

In the century since grey squirrels were introduced from North America, where they are known as tree rats, they have colonised most of the UK - and red squirrels are the victims.

Scottish strongholds

It is believed that once greys appear in an area, the native squirrels are driven out within 15 years.

That means that the UK now has three million greys, compared to just 160,000 native squirrels.

But the south of Scotland is one of the few remaining strongholds: Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders are more or less free of greys.

Plans to be announced on Monday will make the case for conservation officers to be appointed in each region to look after the endangered animal.

Their brief will be to monitor red squirrel numbers, establish conditions for their long-term survival and guard against the grey invasion.

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See also:

19 Sep 99 | Sci/Tech
Red squirrels find safe refuge
15 Jun 99 | Sci/Tech
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23 Sep 98 | UK
Squirrels red and dead
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