Page last updated at 06:04 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 07:04 UK

Help sought to track red squirrel

A red squirrel
The red squirrel population has been in decline for decades

A project to learn more about the elusive red squirrel in mid Wales is appealing for volunteers for help.

Traps will be set in the coniferous forests of the Tywi Valley in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Powys as part of the scheme.

The Mid Wales Red Squirrel Project said it was looking for people to help with sightings and to conduct the survey.

The creatures are usually trapped, examined, tagged and then released back into the wild.

But the native red squirrel can be elusive.

In 2005, the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales applied for funding to extend the project by four months because the squirrels were proving difficult to catch.

Robust

Numbers have been in serious decline, and in Wales there are just a few pockets in north, mid and south west Wales.

The Mid Wales Red Squirrel Project said it wanted to find out how the animals were using the forest, which sections they were using and how robust the population was.

Wildlife trust officer Dr Lizzie Wilberforce said: "So secretive are the red squirrels in mid Wales that many people living in local towns and villages aren't even aware of their very special neighbours.

"And yet research by the Mid Wales Red Squirrel Project has shown that they could be the most important red squirrels left in Wales, with a unique genetic structure of truly Welsh origin."

In 2004, project researchers said because the region's population was so isolated the bloodline could be one of the purest in the UK.

Funding from the People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the Countryside Council for Wales will fund the trappings.

Bev Lewis of Wildlife Trusts Wales said people keen to get involved should e-mail blewis@brecknockwildlifetrust.org.uk or phone on 01874 625708.



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SEE ALSO
New 'blood' for island squirrels
12 Mar 07 |  North West Wales
Squirrels prove a difficult catch
02 Jun 05 |  Mid Wales
Red squirrels 'purer' in Wales
10 Oct 04 |  Wales

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