In this issue, we’re pleased to introduce Jack Edmondson, the G2G ranger. Also, we celebrate wonderful donations from two of our corporate supporters. Sadly we report a possible case of squirrel pox virus in a red squirrel at Skelwith. Finally, in a somewhat trimmed back Summer E-News, we’d welcome your views on previous editions and future format. In short, we want to offer news that you want to read!
Grasmere to Grizedale (G2G) Project
In June we mentioned the exciting news that, thanks to a partnership between Westmorland Red Squirrels, the National Trust, the Grasmere Red Squirrel Group and Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE), we had secured five years of funding to intensify squirrel management between Grasmere and Grizedale. Building on the invaluable work of colleagues to protect red squirrels in Grasmere and evidence from our Rusland’s Reds project of red squirrel presence to the south of Grizedale, RSNE has moved quickly to appoint Jack Edmondson as red squirrel ranger.
After a recent planning meeting with our volunteer coordinators operating in and around his new patch, Bob Cartwright sat down with Jack to talk about the man behind the badge.
Bob: Welcome to the job, Jack. It’s good see a local lad step into this important role.
Jack: I’m delighted. I was born and raised in Coniston, attended John Ruskin School, and ever since the age of 14 I’ve been reporting red and grey squirrels that I’ve spotted while out walking the dog. I got to know Mike [our Ambleside and Langdale area coordinator], learned how to trap and shoot greys and my interest in red squirrel conservation grew from there. I took the two-year Level Three course in Game and Countryside Management at Newton Rigg, which led to a gamekeeper’s job in the Angus Glens of Scotland where I’ve been for the last two and a half years.
Bob: So what brought you back home?
Jack: This job! A friend tipped me off about the advert and it was too good an opportunity to miss. I’m 20 years of age now and it’s an opportunity to give something back. If I can help bump up red squirrel populations and raise awareness about how special our native squirrel is to the area, I will be satisfied. My initial focus is on Tarn Hows, where reds are definitely breeding, which is an encouraging sign. I’m working with the National Trust’s staff and volunteers there but plan to spread further afield, liaising with other landowners to establish a comprehensive programme of grey control and red squirrel monitoring across the patch.
Bob: You’ve been in the job for just five weeks and are already making a difference. What else do you want to achieve in this five-year project?
Jack: Two things: Firstly, working with all woodland owners to complete the jigsaw of grey control and red squirrel conservation across the area. It’s the only way we will protect our red squirrels from squirrel pox virus that grey squirrels carry, and reduce competition for natural food on which the reds rely for breeding success. Secondly, gathering support from businesses and the local community for what we’re doing. I’m happy to meet anyone and everyone to discuss how we can work together, and come and speak to parish councils and other community groups. My email address is email@example.com or call me on 07500 170101.
Bob: Thanks Jack. We at Westmorland Red Squirrels are delighted to have you on board. I know I speak for our project partners in the Grasmere Red Squirrel Group, National Trust and Red Squirrels Northern England in wishing you every success.
We’ve mentioned before the support we’ve had from Logs Direct at Halton for our work in the Rusland Valley. Last month they generously gave us another £500 thanks to donations from their customers. And following the return of red squirrels to The Samling Hotel near Ambleside after a sustained programme of grey control, Mike, our area coordinator, was delighted to receive on our behalf a £100 ‘thank you’. Thanks to both.
Squirrel Pox at Skelwith
A recent suspected case of squirrel pox virus at Skelwith has rung alarm bells. A red squirrel found with trauma around its mouth, and clearly in a bad way, was reported to one of our supporters. Unfortunately, it failed to survive and the carcass has been sent to the vets for analysis. Please look out for any signs of apparently suffering reds including lesions around the mouth, eyes and paws. You can report suspected cases to firstname.lastname@example.org. And please re-double your disinfectant regime on traps and feeders.
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