A 1st for Red Squirrel conservation in N. Ireland. The translocation of Red Squirrels to establish a new population of Reds. This was part of a joint project with several squirrel groups across N. Ireland. The two groups that were able to successfully move squirrels were the Tollymore Red Squirrel Group and we the Glens Red Squirrel Group. We had successfully completed the work relating to the translocation of what was originally 3 Reds but due to other issues, 4 animals were required. 3 licences were issued to the Glens Red Squirrel Group for the live trapping and the transporting of Red Squirrels to the Mourne Park Silent Valley area.
The Glens Red Squirrel Group worked closely with the Mourne Heritage Trust on selecting the best times and weather conditions for the trapping and moving of the Red Squirrels to provide the best possible conditions for the Reds to be trapped and released. Squirrels came from: Breen Forest -1 female Ballypatrick Forest – 1 Male Clare Forest – 1 female. On the 19th of September the squirrels were transported to the release site. The Mourne Heritage Trust Team were there and the release took place. Breen Wood. This area belongs to the forest service and is next to Breen Oak Wood. The trees in the area are Larch, Oak, Hazel and Scots Pine mainly. This area was chosen as the most suitable area because the release site in Mourne Park was a large mixed planting, with large Larch and Scots Pine planting nearby. Ballypatrick Forest. This area belongs to the forest service. The trees in the area are Larch, Hazel, Scots Pine and Thorn. This again was chosen as the most suitable area because the release site in Mourne Park was a large mixed planting with large Larch and Scots Pine planting nearby. Clare Forest. This area belongs to the forest service and is next to open farm land with very rich hedgerows.
The trees in the area are Oak, Hazel, thorn and Scots Pine mainly. This area again was chosen as the most suitable area because the release site in Mourne Park was a large mixed planting with large Larch and Scots Pine planting nearby. The red squirrel populations were selected because they were well known for having a strong and healthy population with a high number of Reds. On the 18th of September we got a call from the Mourne Heritage Trust asking if we could carry out the trapping and moving of the reds on the 19th of September as the weather in the Mournes was set to be good for that date and the week after. This would offer the squirrel’s 19 | P a g e time to get settled in. Weather in the Glens was patchy and this could affect the success of trapping. The Mourne team were informed of this and it was agreed to let them know if we had been successful in trapping the animals needed. On the 18th of September at 7.30pm the traps on site were set and feed removed from the main feeder on site. Early the next morning all the traps were checked and we had trapped the numbers of squirrels that were needed and had been requested by the NIEA.
Each Red was placed in a small animal carrying box and taken to Mourne Park. Daniel met with the Mourne Heritage Trust team and the release took place with the owner of Mourne Park there to witness the Red Squirrels back again. Daniel gets regular updates from John on the Mourne team and to date all the feedback about the squirrels have been positive. At this stage the project has been very successful and the team are working hard to make sure it carries on.