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Lake District warned over black squirrels

Posted 13 February 2012
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Lake District warned over black squirrels
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Those who like to spot red squirrels when they go walking in the Lake District might wish to be on the lookout for their black cousins.

Reds have already been driven out of much of Britain by greys, but now the black squirrel is threatening both species, the Westmorland Gazette reports.

And while the black squirrels are mainly confined to East Anglia, conservation manager at Cumbria Wildlife Trust, David Harpley told the paper: "It will probably get here at some stage.

"The blacks seem to have some sort of genetic advantage but I don't think anyone knows what it is."

Reds have been pushed into the fringes of the UK - such as Cumbria - due to the greys being able to out-compete them for food and also carrying squirrel pox, a virus that is harmless to them and black squirrels but fatal to reds.

Anyone spotting black squirrels in Cumbria while out walking has been asked to contact the Black Squirrel Project, run by Anglia Ruskin University.

It notes the black squirrels' range of habitat appears to be travelling at a mile every two years.