Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Red squirrels: Isle of Man public consulted over introduction

red squirrel Image copyright PA
Image caption Funding for the introduction of red squirrels to the Isle of Man is expected to come from private or charitable sources, said the Manx government

Plans to introduce red squirrels to the Isle of Man for the first time have been unveiled by the Manx government.

Environment Minister Richard Ronan said there was a "strong affection for red squirrels, especially with the numbers declining in the British Isles".

But the government said a number of environmental risks associated with introducing a "non-native species" would first have to be considered.

A public consultation on the issue will remain open until 27 April.

Mr Ronan said: "Having this iconic animal on the island could be an added draw for visitors and show the island plays its part in international conservation."

Risk factors include "bark-stripping and bud-feeding".

Forestry officials said they did not think this would present a significant problem in the Isle of Man.

Grey squirrels were introduced to the United Kingdom from North America in the 19th Century and since then have threatened the livelihood of red squirrels.

This is primarily due to competition for habitat and the transmission of the deadly parapoxvirus.

While red squirrels are not classed as endangered, the Red Squirrel Survival Trust in the UK claims they could disappear within a decade without conservation.

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