HIGHLANDERS are being asked to report sightings of red squirrels during the “Great Scottish Squirrel Survey“, which begins today.
Rewilding charity Trees for Life wants to hear about sightings in gardens, forests or any other location across the Highlands.
The charity has already reintroduced red squirrels to nine locations in the north.
Around 120,000 of the UK’s remaining 138,000 red squirrels are believed to live in Scotland.
Trees for Life said: “Their numbers have been decimated by reduction of their forest homes to isolated fragments, and by competition and lethal disease from grey squirrels, which were brought to the UK from North America in the 1870s.”
Becky Priestley, the charity’s red squirrel project manager, added: “We are asking as many people as possible to report their red squirrel sightings during the Great Scottish Squirrel Survey, and afterwards too.
“Every reported sighting is citizen science in action – vital for monitoring our reintroduced red squirrel populations and to see how far they are spreading.
“Our long-term goal is for as many of the reintroduced populations to link up as possible.
“Sightings are invaluable because they help us know whether reds are still present at the original release sites, how far they are travelling to colonise new woodlands, and if they are breeding.”
Since 2016, the charity has released more than 170 reds across seven sites in Wester Ross – Ben Shieldaig, Coulin Estate, Plockton, Inverewe Gardens, Attadale, Letterewe and the Reraig peninsula – as well as at Spinningdale in Sutherland and, most recently, further south at the Ardtornish Estate at Lochaline on the Morvern peninsula.
Read more stories on Scottish Field’s wildlife pages.