North West Wales

Red squirrel colony established in Gwynedd to boost numbers

red squirrel Image copyright PA

A wild colony of red squirrels is set to be established by conservationists in Gwynedd in a bid to boost numbers.

It follows the success of the red squirrel population on Anglesey which has increased from about 40 squirrels in 1998 to more than 700.

Conservationists are encouraging populations at Ogwen Valley, five miles from Bangor.

The site was chosen as mountains help shield them from grey squirrels which carry a disease deadly to the reds.

Squirrel boxes

Ten squirrels bred by the East Anglian Red Squirrel Group in Norfolk are among those destined for Wales in special squirrel boxes.

Chrissie Kelley, head of species management at Pensthorpe Conservation Trust north Norfolk, is overseeing the resettlement.

She said: "Our colleagues in Wales know we breed good squirrels and ours will be joined by breeding stock from other places around the country to ensure the widest genetic mix as possible."

Native red squirrels have been almost wiped out by rival grey squirrels which arrived from America in the 19th Century, save for a few strongholds in Scotland and the border counties.

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