Welcome to the official website of the Wight Squirrel Project - the Isle of Wight Red Squirrel Conservation Group.
Red squirrels are the only squirrel native to the British Isles. They are disappearing from the mainland fast and are being replaced by the introduced American grey squirrel.
The Isle of Wight is an important stronghold as the Solent provides a barrier to grey squirrels. However a grey does find its way to the Island sometimes, so we need to be vigilant. There are contingency plans for dealing with greys that arrive on the Isle of Wight.
Not only do grey squirrels outcompete reds for food and territory, they carry the deadly squirrelpox virus, which is fatal to the reds.
It is illegal to bring a grey squirrel into red squirrel territory. The penalty is 2 years imprisonment or £5,000 fine. It is also illegal to release a grey anywhere, once it is caught.
The Isle of Wight’s woodland can provide habitat for around 3,500 squirrels. Numbers fluctuate annually according to the success or failure of the autumn seed crop. They also fluctuate seasonally when young are born.
Red squirrels on the Island live mainly in broadleaved woodland - which is unique nowadays as greys dominate this habitat on the mainland. The Island is also free of deer, which nibble young shoots and retard regrowth of understorey trees.
Wight Squirrel Project needs both practical and financial offers of help. The easiest way to offer financial help is to become a Friend of the Red Squirrel and set up a standing order with a monthly or annual donation. In return we will send you a welcome pack and keep you updated about the project with regular newsletters.
Wight Squirrel Project is an independent, local charity that relies on donations, fundraising events, sponsorship and grants to keep it going. If you give a minimum donation of £5 per person, you will become ‘A Friend of the Red Squirrel’ for a year and receive a certificate. This will give concessions to some red squirrel events and the use of our hide.
Funding is needed to cover general running costs, insurance, post mortem expenses, monitoring, providing an annual newsletter, advice, veterinary bills and leaflets to the general public and also for food to fill hoppers at ‘safe’ road crossings.
In 2012 Project Manager, Helen Butler, was awarded the ‘Special Award’ by The Red Squirrel Survival Trust ‘in ‘recognition of outstanding service to red squirrel conservation in the United Kingdom.’ In 2013 she received an MBE for services to red squirrels on the Isle of Wight.
Leprosy has recently been found in red squirrels across the British Isles.
We are collecting information and tissue samples as part of our research programme. Your reports of squirrel sightings are vital to our research, so if you see an infected, or dead squirrel, please report it to the Wight Squirrel project as soon as possible.
Signs of leprosy to look for are wart like lesions, especially around the ears, or a swollen nose and bald, swollen ears.
If you see a sick squirrel and can catch it, please ring, 611003 or 613145 and we will arrange to collect it.
For more information on red squirrels and projects on the island, visit the IOW Red Squirrel Trust website.
You can easily and effectively help red squirrels by becoming a Friend of the Red Squirrel. Become our Friend.
Have you seen a Red Squirrel on the Isle of Wight?. Please let us know.