Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Isle of Man red squirrel plan could be 'devastating'

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

Introducing red squirrels to the Isle of Man could have a devastating impact on Manx wildlife, according to experts at the Manx Wildlife Trust (MWT).

Plans to introduce the non-native species to the island for the first time were unveiled by the Manx government earlier this month.

The environment department has since launched a public consultation.

The MWT said it was against the move, which would "impact on habitats already battling with environmental pressures".

A spokesman added: "Introducing the squirrels could have a devastating impact on our Manx wildlife.

"They would find it hard to survive due to limited food sources, which is exactly when they can have an impact on birds through eating eggs."

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

Image copyright Lynne Newton
Image caption The Manx Wildlife Trust said conservation efforts should be focussed on the preservation of species already native to the Isle of Man - such as puffins

'Iconic puffins'

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.

But the MWT claims conservation efforts should be concentrated on birds and animals native to the island.

Chief executive Dr Tim Graham added: "The Isle of Man has several iconic species which we should preserve before thinking of introducing new species on to the island and tying up our limited budgets,

"The Trust is currently working to make sure puffins do not go extinct on the island."

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