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[23 SEP 98] WARWICKSHIRE WILDLIFE TRUST PRESS RELEASE
Red Or Dead

The Wildlife Trusts warn today that, without increased human intervention, the UK's red squirrels face near-extinction in the next decade.

A report, Red or Dead, released by The Wildlife Trusts today reveals that, without continued help from groups like The Wildlife Trusts, the native red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) could be lost from mainland England by 2010. Meanwhile population strongholds in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland find themselves under increasing pressure from competition with the introduced grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis).

Red squirrels disappeared from Warwickshire in the early 1960's, having been completely replaced by grey squirrels.

American grey squirrels were introduced into the UK in the 19th century, and since then their numbers have grown to 2.5 million animals. Meanwhile, red squirrels have suffered dramatic losses. Having once been common throughout the UK, they have vanished from almost all of England and have lost more than half their range in the last 50 years.

In common with other UK wildlife the future of the red squirrel is threatened by many factors, including habitat loss. But the continuing success of the introduced grey squirrel remains a major threat to the red's survival - the report states that once greys become established in an area red squirrels can be expected to die out within just 15 years.

The Wildlife Trusts are at the forefront of national efforts to save the red squirrel and are active in all red squirrel areas, supporting existing populations with the hope that they will one day be able to expand.

Dr Simon Lyster, Director General of The Wildlife Trusts, said:

"Red squirrels are going to continue to decline towards extinction unless urgent action is taken. But it's not yet too late. If government, land managers and conservationists make a concerted effort, we might just be able to tip the balance back in the red squirrel's favour."

Further Information:
Andrew Thompson, Conservation Manager, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust on 01203 - 308976
  

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CWN / Environment / Warwickshire Wildlife Trust / Press Releases / 23 Sep 98

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