Pine martens drafted in to fight grey squirrel incursion - Forestry and Land Scotland

Artificial pine marten dens are being installed in forests along the east coast of Scotland and the A9 corridor to try to halt the advance of grey squirrels.

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) plans to install over 30 pine marten dens along the grey squirrel migration routes in a bid to protect red squirrels.

For the first time, grey squirrels are being found north of Dunkeld in Tayside and moving north from Angus into Aberdeenshire. In 2021 they were recorded in Pitlochry, Perthshire and north of the River North Esk.

The threat, according to FLS, is that the central belt population of grey squirrels will join up with the established Aberdeenshire population found around Aberdeen, endangering the red squirrel populations.

Gareth Ventress, environment forester at FLS, said: “We need to stop grey squirrels in their tracks. Grey squirrels from the central belt can bring squirrelpox with them, which is what decimates reds alongside competition for food. Grey squirrels in Aberdeenshire don’t currently carry squirrelpox. We plan to install artificial pine marten boxes along the grey squirrel migration route, particularly in forests like Craigvinean in Perthshire or Inglismaldie just north of the River North Esk along the A90."

Research has shown that the presence of pine martens helps control grey squirrel numbers. In north Scotland, red squirrels have coexisted with pine martens since the early 1980s in large areas of native species and mixed plantations.

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Posted On: 18/02/2022

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