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The Isle of Wight Red Squirrel Trust’s sister Project, Wight Squirrel Project carries out the majority of red squirrel work on the Island and they have shared some tips on how Islanders and visitors can help in their conservation.
If you have red squirrels in your garden then providing a safe feeding place and varied diet can help them survive in times of food shortage. Squirrels usually leave gardens in the autumn when their natural food is abundant.
Where there are red squirrels, with or without greys present, then someone will be monitoring them. On the Island you can contact us or WSP to report sightings or you can download Wight Squirrel Project’s App Epicollect5 to do this.
However unsavoury this may seem, these provide useful information about the health of red squirrels in the area. Corpses can provide valuable data without the need to capture live animals. Weight, body measurements, sex and general condition are all recorded as well as cause of death. Please contact Wight Squirrel Project if you find a dead squirrel on the Isle of Wight. If you find a dead red squirrel elsewhere then please contact the local Wildlife Trust.
Does a planning application affect red squirrels? Does it break a ‘corridor’ between woodland or encroach into a wood?
We encourage you to look at Isle of Wight planning applications and question any which you think could affect Red Squirrels' habitats.
Are very helpful to squirrels but are often difficult and expensive to maintain and care must be taken in positioning them high enough to not interfere with taller vehicles such as any trucks or busses that may regularly use or be diverted to use the road.
For the erection of rope bridges third party insurance, sponsorship, somebody to fill the hoppers and landowner permission are necessary. For this reason ropes are only used where very small fragmented populations may be wiped out due to road casualties and conditions must be favourable.
Ropes literally ‘bridge the gap’, so trees must partially meet across the road, as squirrels do nutlike to cross very wide, open expanses. Strong, high trees are needed to secure the rope a minimum of 20 ft above the road. The positioning fo telegraph and electric wires sometimes preclude the use of rope bridges.
Food hoppers are placed either side of the road to encourage the squirrels to climb the trees and cross at this point. However in the autumn when seed shall onto road edges, the squirrels may be killed foraging amongst the leaf litter.
So unfortunately, although these innovations help they cannot replace sympathetic woodland management in the long term effort to save red squirrels on the Isle of Wight.
These do help on quieter lanes, however they have not had an impact when used on the busiest roads.
The Forestry Commission has provided funds to plant corridors between ancient woodlands which should aid future generations of red squirrels on the Island There are also grants to manage existing woodland and to plant new woods.
Happily, the IoW Council has written a ‘Red Squirrel Strategy’ that advocates the importance of habitat management and corridors.
This is a crucial part of the conservation of Red Squirrels & the primary purpose of the Isle of Wight Red Squirrel Trust.
We carry books, dvds and leaflets to assist people in learning more about them and playing an active part in their conservation.
We also have a number of volunteers available to give fabulous educational talks and we invite you to reach out to us if you would like to book a talk for your school, club, event etc