Friday, 17 June 2011

Squirrel Pox Spreads!!

Here's a press release from the DOE

A second outbreak of a fatal red squirrel disease has been confirmed recently at another location in Northern Ireland.
Thursday, 16 June 2011

Squirrel Pox, which is carried by the non-native grey squirrel, has been confirmed as the cause of death for two native red squirrels in Glenarm Forest in Co. Antrim.
The disease is carried and spread by grey squirrels which are immune to its effects. It has decimated native red squirrel populations in other parts of the UK, and until recently had not been confirmed in Ireland.
Squirrels with squirrel pox have swelling and discharge from lesions around the eyes mouth and feet, and become increasingly lethargic as the disease progresses. Infected animals normally die within 15 days.
Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) Senior Wildlife Inspector, Dr Declan Looney said: "This is now becoming a real cause for concern. The previous outbreak was three months ago and over eighty miles away in Co Down. We are monitoring the situation but would ask for the public to remain vigilant and immediately report any squirrels showing signs of the disease to the NIEA wildlife team or to a member of the NI Squirrel forum.
“Many of our native species such as the red squirrel are increasingly under pressure and it is very important that we do all we can to protect them”.
Also commenting on the outbreak, John Griffin from DARD’s Forest Service, added: ‘We will urgently begin work with the adjacent landowner Antrim Estates, the Glens Red Squirrel Group and the other partners within the Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum to implement control measures to safeguard the local red squirrel population at Glenarm. We acknowledge the dedication and vigilance of the Glens Red Squirrel Group which resulted in the discovery of the two suspect cases.’
The decline of red squirrels in the UK is blamed primarily on the effects of squirrel pox as well as the loss of woodlands and competition from grey squirrels.

Say goodbye to these fellas? Let's hope not!