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Red squirrels

If you keep your eyes peeled you may well see one of our red squirrels. They are, for instance, quite often seen on the Viaduct Walk which circuits Kirkby Stephen to the south. You are most likely to spy a red squirrel in the wooded areas near to the rivers and streams.

Red squirrels in the UK are under threat from the introduced grey squirrel and this area of Cumbria is no exception. So you may well also see a grey. Numbers of red squirrels in the UK have fallen from a onetime high thought to be around 3.5 million, to a current estimated population of around 120,000. The population in England is thought to be as low as 15,000. The most significant threat associated with grey squirrels is the spread and transmission of a disease called squirrelpox virus. Grey squirrels do not suffer from the virus but once a red has become infected they will invariably die within two weeks.

Red Squirrels Northern England logoRed Squirrels Northern England is a new project that aims to increase red squirrel populations through a program of tightly monitored and targeted grey squirrel control. The organisation carries out biannual monitoring of red and grey squirrel distribution throughout the north of England. To find out more about their work or log a sighting, please visit www.rsne.org.uk.

If you would like to be more involved in red squirrel conservation in this area, please contact info@penrithredsquirrels.org.uk

Mallerstang Parish Council also have a Red Squirrel Protection Group. More information on the parish website.

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You can download to an app or print out three free walks near Kirkby Stephen from the Walkingworld website. One is a circuit of the Smardale nature reserve including the imposing viaduct. There is an exploration of the Eden Viaducts near Kirkby Stephen that includes I-Spy sheets for spotting features en-route. The third is a rugged hill walk to the summit of Wild Boar Fell. Simply join Walkingworld to access these walks.
Kirkby Stephen & District Walkers are Welcome Steering Group. Contact us
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