Breed and release project at Pensthorpe Natural Park helps to boost number of red squirrels
A breed and release programme led by Pensthorpe Conservation Trust (PCT) is helping to boost red squirrel populations in North Wales.
The PCT, a wildlife and ecology charity based at Pensthorpe Natural Park, is the lead coordinator in the East Anglian Red Squirrel Group, which aims to provide animals to release into suitable habitats, free of grey squirrels.
Six red squirrels, which have been bred and reared by the group, are being relocated to Clocaenog Forest in North Wales this week, where red squirrel populations have declined from 400 to less than 50 in the past 20 years.
Working with Natural Resources Wales (NRW), which has identified Clocaenog Forest as one of three ‘focal sites’ for red squirrel conservation, it is hoped that the latest squirrels from Norfolk can help to secure the future of the species.
A similar reintroduction programme, supported by Pensthorpe over the past decade, enabled red squirrel populations in Anglesey to grow so significantly that the squirrels moved across the Menai Bridge into North Wales.
Chrissie Kelley, head of species management at Pensthorpe Natural Park, said: “We saw the impact our reintroduction programme had on the population in Anglesey, so we are hopeful that our squirrels can bring similar success to the project in Clocaenog Forest.
“Clocaenog Forest offers ideal territory for squirrels thanks to the mix of tree species which provide stimulation as well as seeds for food. With a little helping hand we are confident that our Norfolk squirrels can reverse the worrying decline in this area.”
Other members of the East Anglian Red Squirrel Group include Kelling Heath Holiday Park, Pettitts Animal Adventure Park, Mayfields CRT, Weybourne Forest Lodges, Easton College and Whitwell Hall.
For more information about Pensthorpe visit pensthorpe.com or call 01328 851465.