There was great excitement at Slieve Gullion Forest Park on Saturday 5th October with the first sightings of a life size Red Squirrel in the Ring of Gullion Area. The Red Squirrel is the newest addition to the INTERREG IVA -funded Action for Biodiversity project.
As part of National Red Squirrel Week, the Ring of Gullion Red Squirrel Group joined forces with the Ring of Gullion team, the INTERREG IVA -funded Action for Biodiversity project, and the Biodiversity Officer for Newry and Mourne District Council to raise awareness of Red Squirrels in the Ring of Gullion area.
Abby McSherry Action for Biodiversity Project Officer said, “The red squirrel is such a fascinating animal, we have lots of them in the Ring of Gullion, but not many people have seen these elusive creatures.” She added, “This is a great day to be involved with and we have had great fun!”
Therese Hamill, Ring of Gullion Officer added “We used today to educate the public about the pressure the Red Squirrel comes under from Grey Squirrels and disease. It is thanks to the efforts of the Ring of Gullion Red Squirrel Group and the existence of Pine Martens in the area that, we think the Red Squirrel is doing so well in this area.”
Danielle Begley, Biodiversity Officer explained, “The grey squirrel is not a native to this island and they put the reds under pressure. The grey squirrels feed earlier and later in the year than reds.” She continued, “The greys also carry a very nasty pox virus. It doesn’t affect them but if reds contract it, they enviably perish”
Danielle Begley, Biodiversity Officer showed the children and their parents what squirrels eat, where they live and even had some quizzes and games. Jumping Clay were also on hand to create pencil top red squirrels for the children to take home as a reminder of the day.
Darren Rice, the Ring of Gullion Landscape Officer then took groups on a nature walk up Hawthorn Hill with help from the new “Red Squirrels in the Ring of Gullion leaflet”. When the children found all the larch cones nibbled on the forest floor, they were sure that red squirrels lived on Slieve Gullion.
To find out more about squirrels in the Ring of Gullion log onto www.ringofgullion.org and click on the groups logo.
Action for Biodiversity is a three year project funded through the Special European Union Programme Body INTERREG IVA funding and coordinated by East Border Region Ltd. The website http://actionforbiodiversity.eu/