BORDERERS’ work monitoring and controlling grey squirrels is making a difference to the population of the native red squirrels .
So says the red squirrel officer for the area, Karen Ramoo, following recent reported sightings indicating more reds and that they are further afield.
Miss Ramoo said: “There are exciting reports of red squirrels reappearing in areas where they haven’t been seen for many years, in some instances for a decade or more.
“Increases in red squirrel sightings have been recorded in Hawick, Kelso and Selkirk. Similarly, there has been a noticeable influx of sightings from in and around Peebles suggesting there are a number of resident individuals located in and around the town. Particular hotspots include the upper reaches of Dawyck Botanical Gardens, woodlands in and around Hall Manor Estate, Cademuir Forest, Lyne and Stobo.
“It is exceptionally encouraging to see red squirrels returning to their old haunts within the Scottish Borders in areas where grey squirrel control has been carried out and this demonstrates how quickly red squirrels are able to make a comeback when the pressure from grey squirrels is reduced.
“The control of grey squirrels is an ongoing programme that is crucial to the survival of red squirrels in south Scotland. If the project can continue to increase trapping effort by getting more people involved, we stand a far better chance of reducing the number of grey squirrels throughout south Scotland.
“With winter upon us, now is the time to start thinking about increasing trapping effort in preparation for the coming spring when natural food will be scarcer, allowing for greater success when trapping.
“Making a concerted effort to control grey squirrels prior to their breeding season next year will also greatly benefit our native reds during this critical time.”
Red Squirrels in South Scotland (RSSS) operate a trap loan scheme offering traps and training to anyone wishing to help protect red squirrels. Anyone interested in joining the scheme can contact Miss Ramoo on 01750 23446 or 07733 121838.
She urged the public to report sightings of both red and grey squirrels using the online form at www.redsquirrels.org.uk or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.