Lancaster park owner’s pledge after red squirrel spotted

Captured on camera, Moss Wood park's pioneering red squirrel.
Captured on camera, Moss Wood park's pioneering red squirrel.

Endangered red squirrels are on the comeback in Lancaster after an eagle-eyed guest captured one on camera at a caravan park.

The Wild family who run Moss Wood in the village of Cockerham hope this could herald the return of the much-loved creatures to the region.

They are now asking guests and staff to be on urgent look-out for signs of any potentially lethal grey squirrels – who carry the squirrel pox virus which wiped out 80 per cent of Lancashire’s red squirrel population less than a decade ago.

The lone red squirrel was snapped as it feasted at one of the bird feeding stations at Moss Wood.

The picture allowed experts from Lancashire Wildlife Trust to confirm that it was indeed a true red, one of whose numbers are being closely monitored by the organisation.

Volunteers at the trust have been fighting to restore the population and evidence suggests that they are winning with growing numbers of colonies being recorded.

“The key to helping the reds gain a foothold at Moss Wood will be taking prompt action if there is any evidence of grey squirrels attempting to proliferate,” said Henry Wild from Moss Wood.

“We will be making an early start on our winter wildlife feeding programme to help the red squirrels maintain their energy levels in the colder months.

“For this we use a special seed blend containing oil of anise which, although rather costly, is very effective in acting as a magnet for red squirrels.

“We’re all extremely excited to see if this becomes the new frontier for the red fight-back!”

The red squirrel population in Lancashire has been steadily increasing since the devastating impact of the virus outbreak in 2008.

The population has now increased to almost 90 per cent of the pre-pox numbers, says the Lancashire Wildlife Trust.