Fears as greys are seen in Ellon

Residents are being asked to keep their eyes open for the interloper and to report any sightings.
Residents are being asked to keep their eyes open for the interloper and to report any sightings.

Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels is urging the public to be on the lookout as recent grey squirrel sightings have been reported in crucial areas for red squirrel conservation.

The project has received reports of recent grey squirrel activity around both Ellon and St Cyrus, prompting a call for locals to record sightings of both red and grey squirrels online.

The grey squirrel is an invasive species that was introduced to Britain from North America. They out-compete red squirrels for food and living space and some also carry squirrelpox, a virus that doesn’t harm grey squirrels but is deadly to reds.

Grey squirrels were first introduced to Aberdeen in the 1970s before spreading, causing the region’s red squirrel populations to decline rapidly.

Years of grey squirrel control work carried out by the group has already removed greys from much of Aberdeenshire, allowing red squirrels to return to places such as Ellon.

A 2017 survey conducted by the project indicated that red squirrel populations in the North East have increased.

Dr Gwen Maggs, Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels Conservation Officer for North East Scotland said: “This is the first time grey squirrels have been reported in the Ellon area for a number of years.

Members of the public are being asked to help by reporting any squirrel sightings (red and grey) on the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels website, scottishsquirrels.org.uk.

The project is also developing a Mearns Red Squirrel Community Group. Anyone interested in getting involved with red squirrel conservation work across the Mearns area can contact Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels via email at: squirrels@scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk.