The number of red squirrels is on the increase in Ireland thanks to the return of the pine marten, a native carnivore, a new survey led by NUI Galway has found.
The new findings indicate that the return of the red squirrel is due to the decrease in the number of grey squirrels, which compete with them for food and carry a disease that is fatal to the native species. The re-emergence of the pine marten, which had previously almost disappeared in Ireland, is linked to the local demise of the greys.
High densities of pine martens were found in areas – particularly the midlands – where grey squirrels had disappeared, with red squirrel numbers recovering in many of these areas indicating that they are capable of sharing habitat with the native carnivore, unlike grey squirrels. In urban areas, such as Dublin and Belfast, the grey squirrel continues to thrive. MORE