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Page last updated at 14:27 GMT, Thursday, 17 September 2009 15:27 UK
Red squirrel conservation plans
Red Squirrel
Native red squirrels are under an increasing threat of extinction

The control of grey squirrels is essential to ensure the survival of Formby's red squirrels, according to a new report.

The UK's leading squirrel experts evaluated the work of various organisations trying to protect red squirrels in the north of England.

Recommendations include the standardising of surveys and monitoring techniques.

The spread of grey squirrels has almost eradicated the native red in the UK.

The pinewood area of Formby is one of the few remaining places in the UK where red squirrels survive, and the report A Review of Red Squirrel Conservation Activity in Northern England confirms that local initiatives have played a vital role in sustaining the red squirrels.

In recent years grey squirrels have been culled in large numbers in the areas where reds still exist.

The report recommends continuing this with more detailed monitoring of grey squirrel control as part of a strategy to maintain populations of the native red.

The number of red squirrels in Formby has fallen to around a hundred due to the spread of squirrel pox.

Several factors have combined to drastically reduce the number of red squirrels across the UK, the introduction of greys from North America who can survive in greater densities and the increase in disease and road traffic.

Grey squirrels can feed better in woodlands than the reds and can live in densities of up to 8 per hectare in comparison to red squirrels which can only survive to a density of 1 per hectare in broadleaved woodland.

It is estimated that only 140,000 red squirrels still survive in the UK, in comparison to 2.5 million greys.

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