Plea for Borders squirrel recorders

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A RED squirrel partnership is calling on Borderers to keep an eye out for red and grey squirrels, writes Sally Gillespie.

Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels (SSRS) launched Red Squirrel Week on Monday, asking people to report the species they see in their garden.

An SSRS spokesman said: “We are trying to build up a better picture of where the reds and greys are. Squirrel pox is a big problem in the Borders and getting the latest picture of where the greys are will help because they carry the disease.

“We’re asking everyone in the Borders to send in records. We will get as much data as we can from ‘citizen scientists’ sitting in their garden and be able to extrapolate that and see how many reds there are, and hopefully identify new places where they haven’t been recorded before.

“That also gives people a bit of a boost so they feel it is not a completely hopeless task. People identify with red squirrels and love them, and the more they can hear that actually the work we are all doing is working and that people can see them on their doorstep, the better.”

The information will also help with the conservation management of the reds as well, said the spokesman.

The form is available online at www.redsquirrels.org.uk with columns for this week’s and other sightings – and those taking part go into a prize draw for a book about squirrels.

SSRS also warned those feeding squirrels – ideally every three to four days so they did not become dependent – should disinfect the feeding site regularly to prevent the spread of the squirrelpox virus.

And it recommends a variety of food, including hazelnuts, wheat, linseed, pine nuts, fruits and vegetables, as well as peanuts and sunflower seeds, which are of lower nutritional value.

SSRS is a partnership project between Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS), Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) and the Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST).