Leprosy testing in IOW squirrels
Leprosy was first diagnosed in red squirrels on the Isle of Wight in 2015. Visual signs to look for are unusual ear and skin lesions, although animals with the leprosy bacteria do not always have symptoms. Helen collected ear samples during routine post-mortem examinations she did on 93 squirrels found dead from all around the Island. Deaths due to natural or unknown causes accounted for 33% of cases and 67% ere as a direct result of human activity, especially road traffic. Helen took the samples to Moredun Research Institute and, after training, tested them for leprosy. Only one out of the samples proved positive. The affected squirrel was an adult male that was a road traffic accident in 2016. There were no visible signs of leprosy. It would be interesting to know if there has ever been a leprosy hospital on the Isle of Wight. Are there any historians out there? In the past we have had two confirmed cases of leprosy in squirrels on the Isle of Wight, one had died in 2004 and the second in 2011. The infection is at a low level in the population and has almost certainly been present on the island – and the rest of the country – for a long time. Read more>>
In 2016, the MADRS grey control team removed 720 greys from our patch. 2017 has seen an increase in greys, no doubt greatly contributed to by such a mild winter and to the end of June, we had removed over 900. The damage to trees, predation on bird eggs and fledgelings and obviously the spread of squirrel pox would have been so much greater had it not been for the remarkable efforts of our ‘Grey’ team. We are indebted to each and every one of them, as quite simply, without this control work, we would have lost our Reds by now. It is only through this continued and relentless work that the native Red has any chance of survival. Encouragingly, we have had more red sightings in areas where we have been undertaking control work and I am delighted to say that 2 Reds, in two different areas near Shadfen were seen recently.
Again, we stress that this is not a side of red conservation that is taken lightly. It is absolutely necessary to ensure the survival of the reds.
It would seem that all the various ‘official’ organisations and the plethora of acronyms that go with them are all essentially reinventing the wheel and patting themselves on the back about saving the Red squirrel. It is however a reality, that the majority of ‘saving’ the red squirrel is down to the sheer hard work and ‘boots on the ground’ from local groups. Without this extensive effort, these funded organisations would have nothing to save. It is a pity that the majority of the salaried people sitting behind desks in these organisations seem oblivious to this. Read more>>
Welcome to our August edition. Red squirrel sightings have rocketed this year. By the end of June 2016 we’d had just 86, although the figure recovered to 244 by the end of the year. In 2017, however, we have already had 309 reported, with five months to go. These reports are essential for mapping red squirrel range so please keep them coming. Read more>>
Many of you will have seen or heard so much in the way of press releases over the last six months or so regarding a contraceptive for grey squirrels, a vaccine to save red squirrels from squirrel pox virus disease and also the Pine Marten theory of creating a ‘landscape of fear’ for the greys.
As it stands currently; a workable contraceptive formula is at least a decade away and even if this comes to fruition, it is of no use to our group as cannot be used in areas where there are red squirrels; there is no funding available to develop the prototype of the squirrel pox vaccine any further; and there is no statistically significant evidence relating to the Pine Marten theory.
The only way to save the much loved red squirrels in our area is through human intervention using the successful methods that we deploy. Our standardised recording data provides very clear, significant evidence that using a humane, combination methodology of trapping and shooting is the most effective means of clearing areas of the non-native grey squirrels to allow our iconic and genetically unique red squirrels to survive for future generations to enjoy. It is this dedicated ‘boots on the ground front line work’ that is making the biggest impact in red squirrel conservation. Read more>>
In this edition of Red Squirrel News, find out what the red squirrels on our trail cams have been up to, where red squirrels have been seen recently and and how you can get involved in tracking reds in mid Wales. VWT Pine Marten Project Manager, Jenny MacPherson gives advice on how to avoid getting a pine marten in your traps, and what action to take if you do. Get the lastest information on Phytophthora ramorum disease how Natural Resounces Wales (NRW) are trying to limit the impact on our woodlands. Read more>>
Non-lethal control is unlikely ever to replace trapping and shooting entirely as a way to suppress greys. But fertility control and natural predation offer attractive and additional ‘tools in the toolbox’. Research by Giovanna Massei at the National Wildlife Management Centre, part of the Animal & Plant Health Agency unit based outside York, is moving existing fertility control science to the point where a strategy for grey squirrels can be applied. The 5-year research programme uses existing and proven US developed contraceptives married with leading edge British oral delivery technology. A key component of the research will be the development of a grey squirrel-specific hopper, delivering the oral contraceptive on treated feed. Here is Giovanna’s full report>>
Read more of the WRS E-News here>>
Figures published earlier this year show that in strategically systematic and coordinated programmes carried out in the north of England, grey squirrel control is most effective when a combination of trapping and shooting is used, with shooting proving to be the most effective aspect of control. Read more>>
Welcome to our first E-News. Our plan is to issue it every couple of months with the exception of February each year when we’ll produce an Annual Review. What do you think of this new way of keeping in touch? Please let us know. Read more>>
It’s been quite a while since the last issue of Red Squirrel News. Staff attention has been focused on the coordination of a management plan for the Mid Wales Red Squirrel Focal Site. There was no winter issue of Red Squirrel News this year, but that means there’s plenty of things red-squirrelly to cover in this spring issue!
Find out how the MWRSP is working with the forest industry in the Tywi area to help to retain and restore habitat for the benefit of red squirrels. Discover where some of the pine martens brought to Wales from Scotland by the Vincent Wildlife Trust have established territories. Find out about the new Red Squirrels United Project and how it is working to save red squirrels across the UK. Learn about new red squirrel sightings near to Llanddewi Brefi, in the west of the Focal Site, and how this might be an indication of the growing health of this key population. Read the latest info from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) on their Trap Loan Scheme and how they are working with MWRSP to create a ‘buffer to the buffer’ for the Red Squirrel Focal Site, enabling further protection for our red squirrels from grey squirrels. Read more>>
In 2015, the MADRS grey control team removed over 1100 greys from our patch and another 720 were removed in 2016. If a third of these were female and you think about each having 2 breeds with 3-4 young per season….well, it makes for a heck of a lot of greys damaging trees, predating on bird eggs and fledgelings and obviously spreading the killer squirrel pox virus to our native reds. As always, it is this essential work that is the greatest contributing factor to helping to safeguard our endangered native reds. We keep stressing that this is not a side of red conservation that is taken lightly. It is the necessary to ensure the survival of the reds. There is much talk of a grey squirrel infertility drug being researched but the fact is this is going to be a great many years away. Until that time, the concerted effort of our grey control team and everyone who reports sightings and people who monitor a trap in their garden, is the only saviour for the red squirrel. Read more>>