First Red Squirrels Arrive On Tresco

Tresco could become one of the last safe havens in the UK for endangered red squirrels.

That’s according to Matt Binstead, head keeper at the British Wildlife Centre in Surrey, who supplied the four male and two female red squirrels that arrived on the island yesterday.

Matt says they’ll be held in an enclosure over the winter to allow staff on Tresco to observe and get used to looking after the fragile animals. They’ll then be released into the wild, allowing them to eat natural foods, which will be supplemented by feeders on the island, and he thinks they’ll settle in fine to their new home.

Further animals could be released in the future.

Mike Nelhams of Tresco estate says he’s uncertain what vegetation around the estate they’ll eat but he’s been surprised to learn that they enjoy parrot food.

Matt said red squirrels are highly endangered on the mainland and time could be running out. It could be just 15 to 20 years before they’re replaced by their grey cousins on the mainland.

He said the most logical places to try and conserve them are on the UK’s islands, and Tresco could add to already-established populations on the Isle of Wight and Brownsea.

The scheme was first suggested four years ago by Daily Telegraph wildlife columnist, and regular visitor to Tresco, Robin Page. The initial idea had the backing of Prince Charles, who is patron of the Red Squirrel Survival Trust.

It’s very early days and it will take time and patience, says Matt, but in five years there could be a thriving population on Tresco. And with the neighbouring islands so close, some may even make the journey to other islands, he says.


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