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Red squirrel: bid to increase west Scotland’s population numbers

There are around 120,000 of them in Scotland, but habitat loss is one of the biggest threats to the survival of red squirrels.

In a bid to boost the species’ population on the West Coast of the country, six red squirrels have been released in Morvern peninsula.

Rewilding charity Trees for Life introduced the squirrels into broadleaf woodland on the remote Drimnin Estate overlooking the Sound of Mull, with backing from the landowners.

It follows the release of 21 near Lochaline on the peninsula two years ago.

The new population of reds at Driminin has already been seen playing and feeding in the estate’s woodlands.

‘This new red squirrel population at Drimnin opens up a new chapter in this rewilding success story, which is offering hope for the long-term future of this much-loved and charismatic species,’ said Sarah Woodfin, Trees for Life’s Red Squirrel Project Manager.

‘As long as tree cover continues to improve in the area, eventually these reintroduced reds should be able to move right around the coast all the way to neighbouring Ardnamurchan – helping secure a remnant population of red squirrels that has managed to hold on there.’

Red squirrels numbers have been decimated by reduction of their forest homes to isolated fragments, historic persecution, and lethal disease and competition from the introduced non-native grey squirrel.

Red squirrels remain missing from large areas of the Highlands and Islands, their last main UK stronghold safe from the greys. Although many woodlands in the region offer ideal habitat, the reds can’t reach these havens because they avoid crossing large open spaces.