The red squirrel is a priority species under the Species Action Framework(Link to SNH website). This sets out a five year plan for managing species in Scotland, so that effort and resources are targeted to offer the greatest benefit.
The greatest threat to red squirrels is the spread of grey squirrels. Grey squirrels generally have a competitive advantage over red squirrels because of their larger body size. Grey squirrels also carry the squirrelpox virus which does no harm to them but can kill red squirrels. The virus is present in some areas of south Scotland. If it spreads more widely it could threaten the survival of red squirrels across the whole country.
The most important actions we take for red squirrels are to:
- Monitor the spread of grey squirrels in Scotland and support their control in key areas to prevent further losses of red squirrel populations. This work includes disease monitoring programmes in key areas
- Establish and manage a series of large public forests as long-term red squirrel strongholds and encourage private woodland managers in these areas to manage their woodlands in a similar way
- Encourage wider habitat management that supports red squirrel populations
- Encourage consideration of red squirrels in planning or development proposals likely to affect their habitat.