Can This Man Bring Red Squirrels Back to England?

The red squirrel is the UK’s only native squirrel species, but now it’s under threat.

A thousand years ago, these cute animals were plentiful in forests across Britain — but, as trees were felled to provide timber for fuel and shipbuilding, those woodlands vanished. Without their natural habitat, red squirrel populations substantially declined.

The UK’s Woodland Trust reports that:

Since then (1876), the UK population of reds has dropped from around 3.5 million to between 120,000 and 160,000 individuals (according to different estimates). The population in England is thought to be as low as 15,000.

As a result of this disastrous decline in their population, the red squirrel is now classified as “near threatened” in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

A red squirrel savior?

But Shaun Marrs believes he can help fix this problem.

Marrs, a former farmer in East Yorkshire, plans to reintroduce red squirrels. He’s going to buy them from specialist wildlife suppliers, breed them in an enclosure and then release the animals into woodland that he owns.

Marrs realizes that the animals are “not easy to breed,” and he explains that his project could take up to two years, as baby red squirrels stay with their mother for the first year and can only be released after they have been kept in a holding cage for the following year.

But Marrs is determined to make a difference.

There are other factors working against those cute red squirrels too: Climate change is bringing warmer temperatures, pushing conifer forests further north. Conifers provide the safest homes for red squirrels — and, without these trees, the animals are more vulnerable to predators. Along with many other wild animals, red squirrels have suffered from habitat loss as humans destroy forests for agriculture and construction projects.

Admittedly, Shaun Marrs is not the only one fighting for red squirrel conservation.

Other conservation strategies

The UK’s Woodland Trust is working to encourage red squirrel population growth. These include on-going monitoring, working with landowners to improve red squirrel habitat and connecting areas of woodland by planting trees.

Still, Marrs is very proud of his own unique contribution to the work of preserving red squirrels.

“I know Prince Charles, he’s trying to bring them back to the countryside on all of his estates. They are native to this country and we need red squirrels back in this country I think,” said Marrs.

Thank you, Shaun Marrs, and good luck!

Photo Credit: Getty Images

69 comments

Richard E Cooley
Richard E C22 days ago

Thank you.

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Daniel N
Daniel N23 days ago

Thank you

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Cindy M. D
Cindy M. D29 days ago

Shaun Marrs I wish you great luck and success. Thank you for caring and for making a difference.

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Jen S
Jen Sabout a month ago

I wish him much success!

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Teresa W
Teresa Wabout a month ago

I hope so too.

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Teresa W
Teresa Wabout a month ago

thank you

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Ann B
Ann Babout a month ago

we can only hope

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Olivia M
Past Member about a month ago

Thank you

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Sharonaway R
Past Member about a month ago

I hope so too. Thanks.

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Habout a month ago

Nice.

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