Have your say on squirrel plan

The National Parks and Wildlife Service is drawing up an action plan for the endangered red squirrel and wants to hear from members of the public. The plan will be finalized early in 2008, so if you want to have your say, now is the time. The red squirrel is now one of the most threatened mammals in Ireland. Recent survey work has shown that the species is declining at approximately one percent per annum, mainly due to competition from the introduced grey squirrel. A recent report also contained the first sighting of a grey squirrel in Co. Roscommon – in Mote Park. The new plan outlines the conservation actions needed to secure the future of the red squirrel throughout the island of Ireland over the coming five years. It is a collaborative effort between the NPWS and the Environment and Heritage Service [EHS] in Northern Ireland. Previous all-Ireland species action plans have been developed for the hare, the corncrake, Irish lady’s tresses orchid and the pollan – a rare fish found only in Ireland. Implementation of these plans is underway and further SAPs for bats, Killarney fern, Kerry slug and the otter will be published shortly. The red squirrel is exclusively a woodland species that occupies a wide range of woodland types across much of Ireland. However, its range has contracted markedly since the middle of the twentieth century, and its distribution has become fragmented over much of that range. There are an estimated 40,000 red squirrels in the whole of Ireland The red squirrel SAP can be downloaded from the NPWS website at http://www.npws.ie/en/PublicationsLiterature/SpeciesActionPlans/ The public is asked to send any comments on the plan to Dr. Ferdia Marnell, NPWS, 7 Ely Place, Dublin 2, or ferdia.marnell@environ.ie. The consultation period runs until January 4th 2008.