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Red squirrels return to Liverpool after epidemic threat

by Chris Bradley. Published Sun 15 Jul 2012 14:44, last updated: 15/07/12

Red squirrels who were almost wiped out by an epidemic have "bounced back" to repopulate a conservation area famous for its nut-loving residents.

Almost 90 per cent were killed by squirrel pox cutting numbers to just 150 in Sefton on Merseyside when there had previously been more than 1,500 in 2008.

The population predominantly lives in Ainsdale National Nature Park and the National Trust's Formby reserve.

The recovery means that four years after red squirrels almost disappeared forever from the area numbers have grown to 1,000.


Red Squirrels Northern England's report also noted that that the animals had created small but viable populations in areas of Lancashire.

The study found small populations in Ince Blundell, Little Crosby, Scarisbrick, Halsall Moss, Shirdley Hill and Crosby with some even being spotted at Knowsley Park.

According to the Lancashire Wildlife Trust the increase is the third highest since monitoring began and a spokesperson added it was "fantastic" news.

The red squirrel was the only type in Europe until American grey squirrels were introduced in the 1800s which culled the population of reds significantly.

Despite being solitary animals who usually only come together to mate, they share nests called dreys with relatives to keep warm in the winter.

Females have litters of 2-3 kittens but only around 20 to 50 per cent survive to adluthood because of the harsh climate and demand for food.

Conservationist Fiona Whitfield said: "The results reinforce the conclusion drawn over the past couple of years that the red squirral population in the coastal pine woods is continuing to recover."






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"I SAW A REDDISH ANIMAL RUNNING IN THE LONG GRASS.WHEN IT EMERGED ONTO THE ROAD IT WAS A SQUIRREL . I GOT TO WITHIN 25 YDS WHEN CLIMBED OUT" JOHN HOFFMAN, CROXTETH COUNTRY PARK LIVERPOOL around 2 years, 1 month ago

 
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