The newly formed Ring of Gullion Red Squirrel Group met for their first ever AGM at Slieve Gullion Courtyard last week. The Red Squirrel Group is part of the Ring of Gullion AONB management plan and the Newry and Mourne Local Biodiversity Action Plan, and the formation of this group is another step towards ensuring the protection of red squirrels in South Armagh.
The group is made up of enthusiastic locals and two hands on council officers and it’s main aims are to protect and help maintain the population of red squirrels in the Ring of Gullion and to provide whatever assistance possible to enable them to thrive. The group are encouraging people to get involved by joining up and putting their names forward on the Ring of Gullion website.
Ireland is home to two species of squirrels; red and grey. Red Squirrels are small charismatic native mammals which depend on woodland habitat to live, eat and breed. Grey squirrels are non-native and were introduced into Ireland at the beginning of the 20th century. Danielle Begley, Newry and Mourne Biodiversity Officer explained, “Red squirrels are a protected species and they are also listed in the Newry and Mourne Local Biodiversity Action Plan. This means that the Council are committed to protecting this elusive, native mammal”.
The group are going to concentrate on getting a management action plan written over the next couple of weeks. Then the real work will start, Darren Rice Ring of Gullion Officer encourages anyone with an interest to participate, “Anyone can help us help them, we need as many people as possible to start reporting sighting of both species of squirrels. You can also help out with controlling the greys, feeding stations and our education programme too.”
If you want to get involved just visit www.ringofgullion.org and click on the Red Squirrel Logo on the bottom of the page.