St. Helier, 19th October: With the help of conservationist Ben Fogle, Jersey is launching the first ever Little Red Squirrel Count, an initiative aimed at preserving the future of one of the island’s most precious fauna. With the red squirrel population on the brink of extinction across the British Isles – research has estimated a 92% decline of the red squirrel population over the last few decades – Jersey remains one of the last places where numbers are thriving, with thousands of red squirrels seen every year.
Red squirrels were once a common sighting across mainland UK, however with destroyed habitats and the rise in the grey squirrel population, there has been a dramatic decline – with risk of extinction within 30 years. Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, has safeguarded its red squirrel population through the protection of woodland areas, along with the added benefit of no grey squirrels migrating to the island.
The campaign looks to raise awareness of the red squirrel amongst future generations. New UK research commissioned by Visit Jersey, polling both parents and children, has sadly found that one in four (28%) kids have never seen a red squirrel in their lives, with 1.1 million children admitting to not being able to even identify the creature if they spotted one in the wild. Furthermore, over a third (35%) of parents have also admitted to never having seen one in the wild.
In a hope to change this and raise much-needed awareness of the importance of the conservation of these striking russet-furred animals, Jersey is encouraging local and visiting animal lovers to get outdoors and spot the island’s population of red squirrels this autumn.
Protecting wildlife is of utmost importance to ensure that all animals continue to thrive in their natural habitats. With 3.9 million parents finding it important to teach their children about nature, including animals and their habitats, Jersey wants to encourage families by learning about the island’s flourishing red squirrel population.
Ben Fogle, animal enthusiast adds: “I’m delighted to be involved in Jersey’s Little Red Squirrel Count and hope it encourages families to get outdoors and explore the beautiful woodland areas. Educating my own children about local wildlife has always been a passion, and with red squirrels in decline across parts of the UK, it’s been great to learn more about how Jersey’s protected land has led to the thriving population of these tiny creatures.”
With the support of Jersey National Trust, Jersey is kicking off the Autumn season with its first Little Red Squirrel Count to raise awareness and get families outdoors to spot them while walking through the island’s beautiful woodland destinations.
Meryl Laisney, Head of Marketing & Product at Visit Jersey said: “Jersey offers many wildlife opportunities for visitors but we’re especially proud of our thriving red squirrel population. With many woodland areas housing these beautiful animals, we are pleased to be introducing the Little Red Squirrel Count to encourage animal lovers to spot them across the island this autumn. Jersey is the perfect destination to get back out into nature and discover all the exciting wildlife in their natural habitats.”
Launching this half-term (21st – 31st October), Visit Jersey is encouraging those on island and visiting, to head outdoors and spot these beautiful animals and contribute to the long-term protection of Jersey’s important local species. Head to Jersey this Autumn to get involved in the #LittleRedSquirrelCount
To record a sighting, head to the iRecord app or use the Jersey Biodiversity Centre website to submit you red squirrel spottings and share your images using #LittleRedSquirrelCount. For more information please visit: https://www.jersey.com/squirrel
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