North West Wales

Anglesey and Gwynedd red squirrel spotting invitation

Around 400-500 adult red squirrels are living on Anglesey
Image caption Around 400-500 adult red squirrels are living on Anglesey

People are being asked to report red squirrel sightings on Anglesey and in Gwynedd for a £384,000 project backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

While red squirrels are rare in the UK, their population on Anglesey and in the Bangor area has increased as a result of local conservation effort.

The Hafan y Wiwer Goch project wants the public to help monitor their movements by reporting sightings.

Friends of the Anglesey Red Squirrels (FARS) will be managing the project.

It hopes to reintroduce red squirrels into the Dingle nature reserve in Llangefni this autumn.

"We are doing so many things to get people actively involved," said red squirrel biologist Dr Craig Shuttleworth, from FARS.

"The first thing is to find out where red squirrels are visiting gardens or are regularly seen by people, and then we want to encourage people to monitor the animals and to learn more about the creatures.

Pox virus

"We have nest box and feeder-making workshops, getting people to collect squirrel hair for genetic research, a range of art and craft events building on the scribble a squirrel event we had in 2006.

"We have funding to reintroduce red squirrels into the Dingle this autumn and will get local schools involved at every stage of the process with webcams and video diaries."

Red squirrels are increasingly rare in the UK because they are either pushed out by grey squirrels or die from deadly infectious diseases carried by the grey squirrel.

But it is estimated there are four to five hundred adult squirrels on Anglesey.

Dr Shuttleworth added: "In scientific realm, we will be working with Newcastle University and Defra scientists to monitor disease in red and grey squirrels, looking at the presence of the deadly squirrel pox virus and so we will be asking local people to report squirrel road casualties and sick animals."

More on this story