South Scotland

Solway coast squirrel disease 'resurgence' reported

Red squirrel Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The number of reports of squirrelpox in the area has risen after a short decrease

Conservationists say there has been a resurgence in squirrelpox along the Solway coast.

Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels (SSRS) said the incidents around Sandyhills and Dalbeattie followed a "brief lull" in cases of the deadly virus.

It urged the public to stop feeding squirrels to reduce the risk of spread.

Squirrelpox - which is carried by grey squirrels but is deadly only to reds - has been in the region for more than a decade.

SSRS reported the latest outbreak in the area earlier this year.

Image copyright Lisa Fuller
Image caption Some outbreaks of the disease can take "months to burn out"

It has been trapping and killing greys in a bid to stop its spread.

However, it said a reduction in the number of cases being reported appeared to have been only temporary.

"Squirrelpox outbreaks are relatively common across the south of Scotland and can sometimes take months to burn out," it added.

"With careful and persistent management, the local red squirrel population can make a full recovery."

Trap scheme

Meanwhile, the Lower Nithsdale Red Squirrel Group is calling on Dumfries residents to help protect the town's red squirrels.

It is seeking volunteers to take part in a grey squirrel trap-loan scheme.

Participants will monitor a trap in their garden, designed to capture live squirrels.

Any captured red squirrels will be released, while grey squirrels will be "humanely dispatched by a trained individual".

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