Angus red squirrels could be in danger

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The idea of a local group to help preserve red squirrel numbers in the local area was mooted at Inveresk Community Council’s latest meeting.

The suggestion came from Ken Neil, Tayside project officer for Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels (SSRS), who was giving a talk on the animal at the meeting.

With concerns that the efforts to protect numbers could falter once the project is no longer funded, Ken is hoping to set up local groups to keep the current work to keep grey squirrels out of the area going.

Ken discussed the things being done to help protect the red squirrel population Angus, after a number of grey squirrels had been spotted in the county in recent months - including a sighting at House of Dun and Arrat Mill in the past few months.

He said: “Little by little the greys have been moving up through the valley of Strathmore and they can now be found around Brechin and very recently at the House of Dun near Montrose. There has also been a recent sighting at Hillside, which takes us close to the Aberdeen border.

“We get a lot of help from local estates and we have our own grey squirrel control officer but the greys are working their way up the coast and have been spotted at Monifieth, Arbroath and Rossie.

“They are certainly on the move and we want to stop them getting into Aberdeenshire to stop them breeding with the greys there. The greys found near Brechin are not related to those in Aberdeen and, as any hybrid gardener would know, we are worried they get together.”

Ken explained: “We need to try to develop networks in towns and communities to make safe havens for the reds.”

He added: “We can train people up in trapping but they have to be prepared to dispatch them - it’s the law. We don’t want the whole effort to evaporate.”

Ken hopes to return to the area in the New Year to establish if anyone is interested in officially setting up a group.