Clwyd West MS Darren Millar visited local forest owners last week with representatives from BASC (British Association for Shooting and Conservation) to mark Invasive Species Week.
In his role as Wales Species Champion for the Red Squirrel, Darren has repeatedly highlighted the threat to the red squirrel population by non-native grey squirrels and was therefore pleased to have another opportunity to discuss grey squirrel management during Friday’s visit.
Speaking afterwards, he said:
“For our native flora and fauna to thrive, controlling non-native species is key.
“Red squirrels were once the only squirrel species in Europe, but this changed when grey squirrels were introduced from America to the UK in the late 1800s and although reds are still plentiful across Europe and northern Asia, researchers say the species remains under threat because of disease and competition for food from larger grey squirrels.
“Grey squirrels are a familiar sight for many people across large parts of the UK and are often seen in parks and gardens, whilst the range of our native red squirrels is now limited to certain areas of the UK, such as Anglesey, parts of northern England and Scotland. In many cases they have retreated to wilder, remote locations. Unfortunately, without conservation management, red squirrels could become extinct.
“The grey squirrel is the main reason for the decline of the red squirrel, they must be kept apart as the two species cannot live together long term.
“It was great to have the opportunity to further discuss the current and continued threat to the Red Squirrel during my visit to local forest owners with representatives from BASC as part of Invasive Species Week, which as well as covering grey squirrels, also focuses on deer and plant species, including Rhododendron.
“It important that we encourage more people to support the campaign and play their part in protecting our native wildlife.”