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  Rare squirrel 'facing extinction'
Updated 07 April 2004, 08.55
Red squirrel
A unique type of red squirrel, found only in Cumbria, may vanish completely.

Scientists found the Cumbrian reds were genetically different to all other types of red squirrel after DNA tests.

But biologist Dr Peter Lurz says they are facing too much competition for food from grey squirrels, who can also pass on a deadly pox virus to the reds.

He says they should be protected with special breeding and conservation programmes, and people should even consider a cull of the greys.

A grey squirrel checks for food
A grey squirrel checks for food
"We are not saying the Cumbrian squirrels are more important, but we believe it is crucial to try and conserve them," he said.

He thinks the rare type of red squirrel should be looked after because animals which are more diverse are less likely to die out.

Red squirrels all over Britain are threatened by the greys, which come from America.

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