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Animal Welfare: Squirrels

Volume 698: debated on Wednesday 6 February 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the buffer zone in place keeping grey squirrels from accessing red squirrel habitats. [HL1577]

The red squirrel reserves in northern England were chosen as being the sites most likely to sustain populations of red squirrel, through a combination of factors including favourable habit, defendable location, management potential and supportive landowners.

The buffer zones are the surrounding area of land, typically the 5 kilometres from the edge of the reserve that grey squirrel control habitat management is being targeted in order to protect the reserve areas from grey squirrel incursion. This land varies between reserves from open moorland, thorough mixed woodland and farmland to urban areas.

Work is currently under way to re-map the buffer zones in order to take greater account of land use and topography, which will help direct future habitat management and grey squirrel control efforts.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress has been made in the development of a vaccine to control squirrel pox, which is common in the grey squirrel population. [HL1578]

A three-year PhD study of the epidemiology and transmission of the disease in grey squirrel started in June 2007 at the Moredun Institute funded by the Scottish Executive. The Wildlife Ark Trust has also raised funding for the first stage of a programme to develop a squirrel pox vaccine for the red squirrel.