Members of the public are being asked to report sightings of squirrels “dead or alive” on both sides of the river Shannon, as part of a new study and survey focusing on the spread of grey squirrels to the west of Ireland. Sightings can be easily recorded on a form on www.woodlandmammals.com. Hard copies of the form are also available from Ms Margaret Flaherty, Mammal Ecology Group, Martin Ryan Institute, NUI, Galway.
A survey in 2007 showed a dramatic increase in the spread of the grey squirrel over the last twenty years. The pest was then present in 26 of the 32 counties. It is present throughout Tipperary and its presence is a major threat to the survival of the native red squirrel and to the future of broadleaf trees. Recently there have been reports of two cases of the pox virus in Co Wicklow. This is lethal to the native reds and carried by grey squirrels.
With the increased planting of broadleaf trees over the last two decades, woodland owners and the public need to be vigilant with regard to the threat posed by grey squirrels and on the extent to which they can destroy vigorous healthy trees through bark stripping. The new survey aims to pin point the most vulnerable areas in the country and ensure strategies are in place to minimize further tree damage and spread of the pest