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New Dales group launched to help protect red squirrels
10:30am Thursday 14th March 2013 in News
A NEW group has been launched to protect one of the region's last red squirrel strongholds.
Founding members of the Wensleydale Red Squirrel Group hope to conserve an existing red squirrel population living in woodland near Hawes, in the Yorkshire Dales.
It was formed by local wildlife photographer Simon Phillpotts and Anthony Bagshawe, who has encouraged red squirrels to visit his garden near Hawes for the past five years.
The group is supported by conservation charity Red Squirrels Northern England and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.
Mr Philpotts said: “This is a community-led venture with the aim being to conserve the existing red squirrel population and expand its range within the Yorkshire Dales.
“The initial project area will be upper Wensleydale but it is hoped that through monitoring and conservation work that the squirrels will also populate adjoining Dales over time.
“The involvement of the Dales community is vital to the success of the project.”
The group was due to hold its first public meeting at the Dales Countryside Museum, in Hawes, last night.
The new Hawes group rounded off an excellent week for the beleagured mammal after the Westmorland Red Squirrel Society announ-ced that the first year of its ‘Grizedale red squirrels’ project had been a great success.
The group reported that, thanks to £49,000 funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, healthy populations still existed around Grizedale Forest and red squirrels were moving into areas where they had not been seen for years.
The money was being used to enable the group to control greys in the area. But the society says help is still needed from residents and visitors in reporting sightings of red and greys.
Jackie Foott, project co-ordinator, said: “We have been immensely encou-raged by the number of red squirrels sighted in the Grizedale area and also by the positive response from everybody involved.
“This is a wonderful example of 'community energy' creating a powerful network to benefit a local wildlife species which was desperately in need of help.”
For more details on the Hawes red squirrel group visit wensleydalersg.co.uk
More information on the Westmorland group is available by visiting westmorlandredsquirrels.org.uk, northernred squirrels.org.uk or by calling 015396 25453.