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How many red squirrels are there in the UK?

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The red squirrel is a herbivorous rodent.

In Great Britain, Ireland, and in Italy numbers have decreased drastically in recent years. This decline is associated with the introduction by humans of the eastern grey squirrel from North America in the 1870s. Fewer than 140,000 individuals are thought to be left in 2013; approximately 85% of which are in Scotland, with the Isle of Wight being the largest haven in England. A local charity, the Wight Squirrel Project, supports red squirrel conservation on the island, and islanders are actively recommended to report any invasive greys.

In Scotland, the population is stabilising due to conservation efforts, awareness and the increasing population of the marten, a European predator that selectively controls grey squirrels.

The red squirrel is protected in most of Europe. However, in some areas it is abundant and is hunted for its fur.

In January 1998, eradication of the non-native North American grey squirrel began on the North Wales island of Anglesey. This facilitated the natural recovery of the small remnant red squirrel population. Subsequent reintroductions into broadleaved woodland followed and today the island has the single largest red squirrel population in Wales. Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour is also populated exclusively by red rather than grey squirrels.

Mainland initiatives in southern Scotland and the north of England also rely upon grey squirrel control as the cornerstone of red squirrel conservation strategy. A local programme known as the North East Scotland Biodiversity Partnership was established in 1996. This programme is with an aim of protecting the red squirrel; In 2008, the Scottish Wildlife Trust also announced a four-year project which commenced in the spring of 2009 called Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels.

Other notable projects include red squirrel projects in the Greenfield Forest, including the zones of Mallerstang, Garsdale and Widdale; the Northumberland Kielder Forest Project; and within the National Trust reserve in Formby. These projects were originally part of the Save Our Squirrels campaign that aimed to protect red squirrels in the north of England, but now form part of a five-year Government-led partnership conservation project called Red Squirrels Northern England to undertake grey squirrel control in areas important for red squirrels.

Adapted from here | Image by Brigitte JAUFFRINEAU from Pixabay

VOCABULARY

herbivorous rodent. – mindenevő rágcsáló

charity – jótékonyság

conservation – megőrzés

invasive – nem őshonos

effort – fáradozás

awareness – tudatosság

marten – nyest

fur – szőrme

subsequent – következő

reintroduction – újrabevezetés

broadleaved – széleslevelű

woodland – erdőség

cornerstone – mérföldkő

biodiversity – biológiai sokszínűség

commence – kezdődik

aim to – célbavesz valamit

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