From urban ghosts to rural ones, red squirrels once thrived in the UK but numbers have declined drastically since the release of two American grey squirrels into the wild in 1892. With fewer than 140,000 red squirrels left in Britain compared to 2.5 million greys, the Prince of Wales has launched a conservation project to help our native nutcrackers thrive again, the Telegraph reported last week.
Prince Charles visited Hutton-in-the-Forest, Cumbria, to unveil the five year Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE) conservation plan and meet volunteers. As a patron of the Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST), the prince said that working together would be crucial in preserving the iconic species, and praised the partnership between RSST, Natural England, the Forestry Commission and the Wildlife Trust.
Prince Charles told RSNE volunteers: “Reds are now returning to the woodland and the gardens where they were once terrorised by greys in certain areas and this is something to celebrate. My dream is that red squirrels might thrive in the UK and it is perhaps here in the north of England that we can dare to think it might be a reality thanks to people like yourselves.”
(Image: Estormiz, public domain)
Red Squirrels Northern England will bring together new and existing conservation programmes with a combined value of £3.1 million to co-ordinate red squirrel conservation across the North East, the North West and parts of Yorkshire and County Durham. The group presented the Prince of Wales with a wooden squirrel named in his honour, after which he spoke of his own efforts to save a red squirrel in Scotland last month.