Red Squirrel Meeting

Report of the talk given by Bob Cartwright, Secretary of Westmorland Red Squirrels
at the Coniston Insitute on Wednesday 4th October 2017
by Clare Davison.

Last night there was a very interesting meeting about red squirrels in Coniston presented by members of the Westmorland Red Squirrels charity.  Through hard work it is not all doom and gloom for red squirrels locally.  There are thriving populations of reds still around.  The organisation needs reports of any sightings of squirrels, red and grey, including road kill so that their information base about squirrel populations is as good as it can be.  Currently there are few reports from the Coniston and Torver area. Photos are good if possible to go with the sightings, but not necessary.  You can report by email to sightings@westmorlandredsquirrels.org.uk 
or online at www.westmorlandredsquirrels.org.uk/sightings.

To encourage the return of the red squirrels to the area, it was recommended to put out homemade feeders (as commercial ones have plastic and fall apart quickly if squirrels are around).  They make them from 2 metal jam jar lids with 2 holes drilled in each to attach 6mm wire mesh tube.  Fill with a mixture of peanuts, corn, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts etc.  Westmorland Red Squirrels can provide these.  Put a brightly coloured piece of twine 1/3 up from the bottom tied on firmly.  If the level of food goes down and the string remains intact, birds are eating it.  If the string is bitten through and on the floor, it is squirrels, they feed upside down and will bite through the string.   If there are squirrels, WRS will come and put out humane traps up in the trees to identify which sort.  These have to be checked every 24 hours.  They start with one with a solid door, and if there are reds present they change the trap for one the same except with an escape hole for reds.  Greys have to be killed humanely and this is done by making the trap area smaller and smaller then shooting them in the head.

Reducing the number of greys significantly increases the chances of success for the existing reds.  They are having success in the south lakes with this method and would like to encourage people in this area to join the effort. For more information contact Bob Cartwright, Westmorland Red Squirrels' Secretary on 015395 61514 or at secretary@westmorlandredsquirrels.org.uk.
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