Squirrel Pox Virus in Merseyside

The first confirmed case of Squirrel pox virus in Blundellsands, Merseyside has been confirmed.

This is a devastating blow to conservationists working to protect our endangered Red Squirrels.

A poxed red squirrel - (c) William Lee

A poxed red squirrel - (c) William Lee

Sally Orritt from the Save our Squirrels campaign said ‘We are working to keep the Grey squirrels away from the Red Squirrels, we really need to get our message out loud and clear, anyone who sees a squirrel, Red or Grey, should get in touch.’

The Blundellsands population of Red Squirrels is at risk because of the Grey Squirrels in the Crosby area.

Squirrel pox is a threat to all red squirrels, particularly if they come into contact with grey squirrels, the carriers of the virus.

Amy Campbell of Lancashire Wildlife Trust works with the public to help save our squirrels. Amy said ‘We rely heavily on the public as our eyes and ears, Reds in the area have made gardens their habitat, if people don’t get in touch, we just don’t know where the squirrels are to protect as young squirrels disperse around this time of year.’

This latest out break of Squirrel pox virus comes almost a year since the last confirmed case of the virus in December 2008, in the Formby area.

Bi-annual monitoring of the Sefton Red Squirrel population showed a decine of 80% in spring 2009.

Fiona Whitfield, Conservation Officer with Lancashire Wildlife Trust said ‘We hope to contain this out break, with the support of the public.

We know there are good populations of Red Squirrels in both Blundellsands and Altcar and we need to do everything that we can to stop the disease from spreading back up the coast to the recovering populations of Formby and Freshfield.

Volunteers are already leafleting local houses so that people know to keep feeders disinfected and to get in touch if they see a squirrel.’

Please report any sightings of red or grey squirrels on 0151 920 3769. To report sick or dead red squirrels call 07590 745 862. For more information about red squirrels including feeding and disinfecting feeders or to report sightings, visit www.saveoursquirrels.org.uk

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