These delightful animals are at risk of extinction in many local areas of the United Kingdom, but at Haddo they are enjoying a period of great regeneration, with numbers increasing and health improving among their population. Once culled in the name of conservation, particularly at the hands of theHighland Squirrel Club in the first half of the twentieth century, red squirrels are now a cherished native species whose protection from extinction is vital. Their conservation relies heavily on the controlling of the non-native grey squirrel population, which is on the rise in Aberdeenshire. Grey squirrels live in greater density and are more efficient feeders than reds, and therefore cannot successfully cohabit with them. They also transmit the deadly squirrel pox virus (similar in its symptoms to myxamitosis) but do not suffer from it – however this disease is fatal if contracted by red squirrels.
The Estate has adopted planting schemes as part of the Forest Plan to ensure that the red squirrel population continues to thrive at Haddo, namely by planting more Norway spruce and Scots pine on a timetable that takes care not to disrupt them. Feeders are also in operation on many parts of the Estate. Measures are taken to ensure that grey squirrels do not establish themselves on the Estate, and it is hoped that Haddo will become a priority area of woodland for the conservation of the red squirrel in Grampian – it is estimated that Haddo’s woodlands, according to their density and tree types, have the potential to host 150 red squirrels.
More obsessive red squirrel fans are invited to test their knowledge with the special Haddo quiz,
“Who Wants To Be A Squirrelionnaire?”