Date lodged: 11 July 2017
To ask the Scottish Government how it monitors red and grey squirrel distributions across Scotland.
Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 2 August 2017
Squirrel sightings across Scotland are reported through the Scottish Squirrel Database, which has been managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust since 2007.
The Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels (SSRS) Project also carries out annual presence/absence monitoring of red and grey squirrels in three project areas: North-East Scotland, the Central Lowlands and South Scotland. In North-East Scotland and the Central Lowlands, systematic monitoring has been carried out since 2011 and in South Scotland since 2013. Nearly 200 volunteers have been mobilised to carry out these surveys. A sample of 2km by 2km grid squares or “tetrads” are surveyed across each Project area. Within each tetrad four baited feeder boxes are permanently located in woodland. Each feeder box is checked by volunteers three times over a period of six weeks each spring. Hairs are identified under a microscope and each tetrad is consequently allocated to one of the following four categories: “red squirrels only”, “grey squirrels only”, “both species”, or “neither species”. Comparison of the same tetrads over time enables the detection of changes in squirrel distributions.