Squirrels wanted, dead or alive?

Not an update on the Prehen story, but confirmation of just how cavalier that decision to cut into a red squirrel habitat may be:

According to the mammal ecology group at NUI Galway, which is conducting the study, the distribution of grey squirrels has expanded in all directions except westwards, where the Shannon appears to be an obstacle.

As the populations of this non-native species have increased, there has been a marked decline and disappearance of Ireland’s native red squirrels, as both species compete for the same foods: tree seeds, nuts and pine cones.

“Studies haves shown that red squirrels can disappear from an area within a decade or two after the arrival of the grey squirrels. The grey squirrel also carries the squirrel pox virus, which is lethal to the native reds,” the group has said.

As Frank McDonald points out, anyone may complete an online survey form at woodlandmammals.com, email margaret.flaherty@nuigalway.ie, or follow the project on Facebook or Twitter.


  • The Raven

    Never has the need for a cull been clearer, bounty or no bounty.

  • The yokel

    This is my understanding of the legislation protecting the squirrel – not the habitat.
    The Red Squirrel is a European protected species, The Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 is the statutorily instrument which enforces this. It states

    (4)  Subject to the provisions of this Part, if any person intentionally—
    (a) damages or destroys, or obstructs access to, any structure or place which any wild animal included in Schedule 5 uses for shelter or protection;

    (b) damages or destroys anything which conceals or protects any such structure; or

    (c ) disturbs any such animal while it is occupying a structure or place which it uses for shelter or protection,

    he shall be guilty of an offence.

    So if there are red squirrels in Prehen wood any construction activity in the wood is potentially in breach of the criminal law, if 4 a,b or c occurs. The developer should have to demonstrate how he will mitigate against harm to the squirrel population. This should be prepared by a suitably qualified ecologist.

    This is reflected in the Planning Service Draft guidance PPS 2
    Policy NH 2 – Species Protected by Law
    European Protected Species
    Planning permission will not normally be granted for a development proposal
    that is likely to harm a European protected species.
    In exceptional circumstances a development proposal that is likely to harm
    these species may be permitted where:-
    • there are no alternative solutions; and
    • it is required for imperative reasons of overriding public Interest; and
    • compensatory measures are agreed and fully secured.

    This has been in draft since March 2011. The existing PPS2 guidance is not as clear but the legalisation is.

    I think it was Alex Atwood who said NI Planning service is not fit for purpose, something I would tend to agree with.

  • Coll Ciotach

    They are in Glenarm now – saw one in the forest

  • carl marks

    this is acopy of a post of mine from the Prehan woods thread
    100+is a good tally mine sits at around a more modest 30 odd,
    Are you aware that the local Red squirrel protection groups would like to send all grey carcases for testing for Pox virus; at one stage I had four in the freezer awaiting pickup.
    I find freezer bags work best they should have time of day, date and where the kill was made written on the bag, I find that a .22 air rifle is the best method of dispatch but as long as you get the wee buggers ( in a humane manner) does it matter.
    There are protection groups all over the north I belong to the Glenariff red squirrel group G.R.S.G; they are always looking for new members, check out the website.”

  • carl marks

    Coll Ciotach’

    A sighting in Glenarm is disturbing but they have been seen there before, sometime’s it easy to mistake the two some reds will grow a greyish winter pelt im told.
    Could i ask anybody who sights a grey in a area with a active red squirrel group or indeed a red at anytime note the time, date, place. and pass on the info to the group.