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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-10295: Kate Forbes (Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 11 July 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has for a long-term, cost-effective means of controlling the reported spread of the non-native grey squirrel.

Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 2 August 2017

The current distribution and abundance of grey squirrels means that control and containment to minimise their impact are generally the only realistic options. The objectives of grey squirrel control co-ordinated through the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels (SSRS) Project are to: eradicate grey squirrels from Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire within 10 years; to contain the northward spread of grey squirrels into the Highlands and Argyll by carrying out control from coast to coast across the ‘Highland Line’; and to control grey squirrels in identified priority areas for red squirrels in southern Scotland.

A Heritage Lottery Fund Award of £2.46 million has been secured for the next 5 years (until 2022) towards a total SSRS Project cost of £4.4 million. The title of this phase of the project is ‘Developing Community Action’. Actions under this phase are aimed at developing long-term red squirrel conservation and embedding this in land management and community action, with a move away from reliance on project funding. The project aims to build capacity, skills and a sense of ownership of local red squirrel populations.

Work on developing a grey squirrel immuno-contraceptive is also progressing with support from the UK Squirrel Accord signatories; including Scottish Natural Heritage and Scottish Government. Immuno-contraceptives have the potential to significantly reduce the need for and costs of ongoing grey squirrel control.