As part of National Red Squirrel Week, Tollymore and Ring of Gullion Red Squirrel Groups together with Ring of Gullion Officer and Biodiversity Officer for Newry and Mourne District Council were at Slieve Gullion Courtyard finding out all about our much loved native red squirrel!
Darren Rice, Ring of Gullion 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.” He added, “Although numerous in the Ring of Gullion they are under threat from habitat fragmentation and the encroachment of the non-native grey squirrel.”
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”
Anne and John Mcomb from the Tollymore Red Squirrel Group showed the children and their parents what squirrels eat, where they live and even had some quizzes and games. Tufty the Red Squirrel as also on hand to show the kids what squirrels get up to. Darren Rice then took a group on a nature walk up Hawthorn Hill. When the children found all the larch cones nibbled on the forest floor, they were sure that red squirrels lived on Slieve Gullion.
Briege Roe, a member of the Ring of Gullion Red Squirrel Group continued, “I hope this is just the beginning of our exploration of how we can help the squirrels in the Ring of Gullion and I look forward very much to working to save the red squirrel in South Armagh.”
To find out more about squirrels in the Ring of Gullion log onto www.ringofgullion.org and click on the groups logo. Tollymore Red Squirrel Group are hosting an event on Sunday 14th in Tollymore Forest Park – to find out more visit www.tollymoreredsquirrelgroup.com/