Red Squirrels return to several areas of Wester Ross!
Red squirrels, a species previously lost from their native woodlands, have been successfully returned to the north-west Highlands, early results of a reintroduction project show. The new population has naturally expanded since they were reintroduced to north-west Scotland last year. The species had disappeared due to the reduction of forests to just isolated remnants, as well as disease and competition from the introduced non-native grey squirrel.
However, Trees for Life – the conservation charity behind the project – is hopeful that red squirrels will continue to add to their 138,000 number and continue their bold renaissance.
“Early indications are that this could be a real wildlife success story. The new squirrel populations are not only flourishing and breeding in their new homes, they are also starting to spread out into new areas, with squirrels being sighted as far as 15km [9 miles] away,” said Becky Priestley, Trees for Life’s wildlife officer.
The initial relocations began in the spring of 2016, through to this year, when the first 33 squirrels from Inverness-shire and Moray were released at Shieldaig in Wester Ross. Another 22 were set free at the Coulin estate, next to Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve near Kinlochewe, plus 30 at Plockton, which is partly owned by the National Trust for Scotland. Additionally, there are Red Squirrels in the Dundonnell area, Inverewe Gardens - and unconfirmed reports suggest they have also been spotted in the Torridon and Gairloch areas!