The Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) is protected under Schedules 5 and 6 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981(as amended). Under this legislation it is illegal to “intentionally kill, injure or take” or “damage, destroy or obstruct” access to any structure or place used for shelter or protection, or to disturb any animal while it is in a drey.
Red squirrels are a highly mobile and transient species and can regularly found in residential gardens whereby they take advantage of a specifically supplied food source or take the contents from bird tables. Mortality often occurs as a result of undertaking these forays whereby they are predated upon by cats or are killed whilst crossing roads. The stronghold for breeding is concentrated in the north west of England, Anglesey, Cumbria and Kielder Forest.
In recent years Red squirrel numbers have dramatically fallen and isolated populations can be more at risk due to low numbers and threats from Grey squirrel but equally it is possible that they may be less likely to come into contact with areas that have succumbed to high levels of the para pox viral infection.
During our initial survey trees within a site are investigated in relation for their capacity to support a food source for Red squirrel and any obvious signs of dreys. If Red squirrels are discovered within a site, and to avoid an offence being committed by destroying a breeding or resting place it will be necessary to demonstrate that reasonable precautions have been taken to avoid causing damage or disturbance, thus the Tyrer Partnership will undertake required presence/absence surveys over at least four times during a period of two weeks to observe if and how the drey is being used by this species prior to the removal of the trees.