Invasion of the Black Squirrel
The black squirrel was first sighted 100 years ago in Bedfordshire.
But now the “Black Squirrel Project” is adamant to chart the population. So, look out for the elusive squirrel in the UK green scenery.
Cambridge University, Chelmsford University and Anglia Ruskin University are conducting the campaign to find these rare exclusive squeakers. Members of the public have been advised to inform the research group of its whereabouts if they do see a squirrel finding a home for their nut.
It is thought they were spread by a private collection in Bedfordshire and as time has gone on, the species have manifested around the area and according to recent discoveries have moved high up north. All of this remains speculation but the squirrels have even outnumbered the growth rate of the native red squirrels. The number of red squirrels stands at less than 30,000, but growth of grey squirrels are around two million due to a large feeding area and the squirrelpox virus they carry.
“As it stands we know that black squirrels have travelled approximately 50 miles in the last 100 years,” said Helen McRobi of the Life Sciences department at Anglia Ruskin University.
“The aim of the black squirrel project is to gather data on the geographical range of the grey and black squirrel in the British Islese and the data may help explain why the grey squirrel has proved to be such a successful invader in the UK.”
The history of both kinds originated from North America, with more than 100 greys released at various sites across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland between 1876 and 1929. It is reported that black squirrels are more aggressive and attractive to females, but this will not change the status for the Red Squirrel Survival Trust as their strategy is to trap and kill greys to improve the management of forestry in Cornwall and in the north of England. Little is known about the full health specs of the black squirrel as Dr Shuttleworth pointed out that “whether it is a grey squirrel that is white or black, they are all invasive species and should not be encouraged”.
Reports that show the exact population will al depend on this ongoing spotting activity submitted in the UK. Any readers who do see the black squirrel are encouraged to submit a posting with a picture – if you’re quick enough – on www.blacksquirrelproject.org to help map out these species.