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Red squirrels will 'thrive on Anglesey'

19 April 10 11:41 GMT

A project to re-introduce red squirrels into trees around Plas Newydd on Anglesey seems to be succeeding.

Plas Newydd is the home of the Marquess of Anglesey and is run by the National Trust on the banks of the Menai Strait.

Six squirrels brought to the grounds in October 2008 have bred successfully, and Trust staff say red squirrels have been spotted in the garden.

The re-introduction programme is part of the Anglesey Red Squirrel Project which began in 1998.

"We are so excited that the red squirrels are happy in their new home," said Plas Newydd property manager Jane Richardson.

"They have bred successfully, and animals can now be found throughout the estate, and have even crossed the Menai Straits to recolonise Gwynedd," she added.

Ms Richardson said red squirrels had not been seen on the estate for over 20 years.

"But it was once a stronghold for the species, so we know it's a location where they will thrive," she added.

Visitors to the grounds have already reported seeing red squirrels in the garden, she said.

"We intend to set up a reporting area in the summer house so that visitors can tell us when they spot them," Ms Richardson added.

Grey squirrel free

David Bullock, head of nature conservation at the National Trust said the charity had limited resources which they targeted where it would make a difference.

"We have prioritised islands, or parcels, of land owned by the Trust that are, or could be, grey squirrel free," he said.

He added that the Trust would try and ensure that on land which offers the red squirrel a "refuge" it would try to ensure that grey squirrels do not get in carrying the squirrel pox virus, which is lethal to the red squirrel.

"When Ynys Môn becomes a grey squirrel free island it is critical that they are prevented from crossing onto the island again," he said.

"It is essential that quarantine measures are introduced and that a contingency plan is in place to immediately destroy any grey squirrels that do manage to cross the Menai Strait."

Without these measures "all the good work would be undone", Mr Bullock added.

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