The Tale Valley Trust's support of the Red Squirrel Project

November 06, 2010

In April 2009 the Red Squirrel Project South West (RSSW), was formed for the conservation & protection of Reds in the South West of England – wherever possible working with local community charities & volunteers.   

The Charity aims to:

  • Protect red squirrels by keeping them apart from greys
  • Assist reds in areas where their population is stable or increasing
  • Establish a breeding & education centre & new red colonies across the South West
  • Fund research to develop a vaccine for the squirrel pox virus & control fertility in greys
  • Raise awareness of the plight of the red squirrel in the South West

The Threat to Reds: 

The decline of red squirrels is caused by the interaction with grey squirrels. Greys are a non-native species, introduced to the UK from North America in Victorian times. They have few natural predators & have managed to colonise 90% of England & Wales in the past 50 years.

The energy behind RSSW is considerable.  Inspired by the work & success of The Red Squirrel  Survival Trust, a group of like minded landowners, business people & civil servants met to discuss the possibility of their own South West contribution to the conservation of our iconic red squirrel. 

As a peninsular we have a logistic advantage over Northumberland, where in the last 5 years they have culled in excess of 25,000 greys.  This is no 5 minute wonder project, but a responsible,

committed, sustained conservation initiative which  everyone in the region can feel is ‘their’ project.  On an individual level volunteers everywhere, including our villages, towns & cities, can host traps for greys, & quickly see a real difference in their small bird, dormice & even bat populations, all of whom greys predate on.  

Initially the charity will concentrate on defendable   peninsulas such as the Isle of Purbeck adjacent to Poole Harbour (which  already has red squirrels on Brownsea  Island), & Lands End & The Lizard. Once clear of greys, these areas could be stocked with reds bred in the heart of East Devon  - in the Tale Valley.

Escot Park has offered to host a breeding & research facility, which, apart from the conservation advantages would also boost the local economy.  The Tale Valley Trust has endorsed this  flagship project for the area & has provided an initial grant towards it.                    

Particular thanks to Sound City Festivals, The CLA Charitable Trust & The Norman Family Charitable Trust for their support of this project.




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