Isle of Man consults on red squirrels

A public consultation on the Isle of Man is underway about the re-introduction of red squirrels in an effort to bolster numbers

The Isle of Man is consulting on the possibility of introducing red squirrels

by Julie Harding

The Manx government has started a public consultation (until April 27) into changing its law on red squirrels—keeping them on the island is currently prohibited under the Destructive Imported Animals Act 1963. If successful, red squirrels would be introduced into the wild on the Isle of Man, probably in a refuge area, under licence.

Many of the most successful introductions of red squirrels are on islands that are free of grey squirrels, such as the Isle of Man.

Richard Ronan, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture in the Manx government, explains: ‘There is strong affection for red squirrels, especially with numbers declining in the British Isles. Having this iconic animal here could be an added draw for visitors and show the island plays its part in international conservation.’

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If red squirrels are introduced, with funding expected to come from private or charitable sources, they will be treated as a non-native species, although they may have lived in woodlands on the island during the Neolithic period. Forestry officers say they are in favour of the introduction, despite the creatures’ tendency to strip bark and feed off buds.

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