Clwyd West MS and Wales Species Champion for the Red Squirrel has called on the Welsh Government to take action to prevent outbreaks of squirrelpox , a virus that causes the fatal disease which is affecting many red squirrels.
Raising the matter in this week’s Business statement with the Trefnydd, in her capacity as Rural Affairs Minister, Darren, also highlighted a petition, signed by 8,000 people, calling for the Welsh Government to release some resources to be able to invest in the development of a squirrelpox vaccine.
Speaking in the Senedd Chamber, he said:
“There are huge problems with squirrelpox; it's affecting many red squirrels in Scotland and I'm very concerned that we must do everything we can in order to prevent outbreaks here.
“There was an outbreak on Ynys Môn just a few years ago in 2020 and 2021, and 70 to 80 per cent of the red squirrel population was wiped out. There is currently a petition that has been laid before the Petitions Committee in the Senedd. Some 8,000 people have signed calling for the Welsh Government to release some resources to be able to invest in the development of a squirrelpox vaccine. We know that we have some excellent researchers here in Wales who could help to achieve that aim, which would be a huge move forward for our native red squirrels. So, can I ask you, as the red squirrel champion in this Senedd, will the Welsh Government take some action on that front?”
The Minister replied:
“We will certainly be taking action, and we've continued to take action since the outbreak on Ynys Môn that you referred to. I think at that time we did put forward a small pot of money to see what could be learnt from it. Obviously, I'll await the outcome of the petition—clearly, a significant number of people have signed it—and whether that will come forward for a debate.”