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Scottish red squirrel populations stabilise
Squirrel populations are measured using feeder boxes that are placed in the same area of woodland every spring.
Survey results show significant increase in Aberdeen 

Red squirrel populations in Scotland have stabilised, according to figures published by Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels.

The results of the 2017 Squirrel Survey show that there has been a significant increase in red squirrel distribution across the North East, particularly in areas close to the City of Aberdeen. In the south of Scotland, red squirrels have maintained their range and have even slightly expanded their occupancy.

Mary-Anne Collis, red squirrel conservation officer for Argyll, the Trossachs and Stirling, said: "In the Central Lowlands, red squirrels are holding their ground and as a result, we’ve started to see them in areas where they haven’t been seen for a long time. This is particularly noticeable to the south and east of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, which is now predominantly a red-only zone.”

Whilst red squirrels have successfully maintained their range in most parts of the South, the survey shows that it is a very different picture for Berwickshire, where reds are now rarely seen.

Dr Mel Tonkin, Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels project manager, said: “Unfortunately red squirrel numbers have continued to fall in parts of the Scottish Borders, especially since the arrival in Berwickshire of the deadly Squirrelpox virus from south of the border in 2011. However, there are still good populations of red squirrels from Galashiels and Jedburgh westwards, and Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels is carrying out conservation work aimed at safeguarding these squirrels.

“In Dumfries and Galloway, red squirrels continue to do well but are threatened by increasing records of grey squirrels which appear to be spreading into Nithsdale from the east and north. It is vital that the work we do here is stepped up to make sure these red squirrel populations remain healthy.”

Squirrel populations are measured using feeder boxes that are placed in the same area of woodland every spring. Each box contains a sticky pad to collect hair samples, which are identified under a microscope.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust is currently seeking volunteer in South Scotland to take part in the 2018 squirrel survey, which takes place between March and April. For more information, email Gill Hatcher ghatcher@scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk 

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”