Are Red Squirrels Endangered? [Where Are They Protected?

Are Red Squirrels Endangered

Many animal species that used to be abundant have become endangered in our modern world. It seems there is too much of a clash between technology, urbanization, industries, and the natural world. Flora and fauna are the ones that suffer. What about red squirrels? Are they endangered, and are they protected anywhere?

The Eurasian red squirrel faces endangerment in Britain, so they are protected. Luckily, American red squirrels do not face endangerment, and their numbers are steady. At one point, the Delmarva Fox squirrel was endangered and protected, but the numbers have increased, and it is no longer under threat.   

Unfortunately, as a civilization grows, all tree squirrels face the threat of deforestation, and their habitats are becoming smaller as more land is taken for human development. 

Other threats to these animals include climate change, diseases spread by other animals, food shortages due to competition with introduced species, and poaching for fur.

It is essential to know if red squirrels are endangered and protected. 

We’ll discuss which tree squirrels are facing endangerment and what each person needs to assist threatened species in helping them re-establish their place in the world. 

Are Red Squirrels an Endangered Species?

Three types of squirrels fall under the term ‘red squirrels.’ Each of these species’ population parameters must be considered individually. The three types are:

  • Eurasian red squirrels
  • American red squirrels
  • Fox squirrels

Are Eurasian Red Squirrels Endangered?

Eurasian red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) reside in Asia, Europe, and Britain. They are a much-beloved animal in Britain and even feature in many popular children’s s stories. However, Eurasian red squirrels have dramatically decreased in numbers throughout the UK.

Red squirrels in the British Isles used to be abundant woodland creatures. During the eighteen hundreds, wealthy aristocracy brought gray squirrels from America as novelty pets. 

Their noisy, sociable habits made them attractive to people and were easier to spot in trees than the shyer red squirrels. 

What Caused The Red Squirrels To Become Endangered?

Many things led to the endangerment of red squirrels in Britain. Below are some of the reasons that led to the endangerment, including; the introduction of the gray squirrels.

People released gray squirrels into the wild, where they thrived and began reproducing. Gray squirrels carry a virus called parapox or squirrel pox. 

The virus does not affect the health of grey squirrels, but it is deadly to red squirrels. The number of red squirrels fell dramatically after the arrival of grey squirrels in Britain.

Gray squirrels are larger and compete for the same feed sources as red squirrels. This factor contributed to Britain’s decimation of the Eurasian red squirrel population. 

A Decline In Food

Gray squirrels eat green acorns, but red squirrels wait for them to ripen before consuming them. As a result, grey squirrels removed a significant food source for red squirrels by eating green acorns. 

In addition to the gray squirrels eating the food before the red squirrels, humans are tearing down forests that the red squirrels rely on for food and shelter. 

Where Are The Numbers The Smallest?

Red squirrels have been obliterated from southern England, with only two small isolated populations existing around Poole Harbor and the Isle of Wight. However, there are two areas where red squirrels still live in Central Britain. One is in Formby near Merseyside, and the other is in Anglesey, Wales.  

Red squirrel populations remain comparatively high in Northern England, Scotland, and Ireland. Conservationists and squirrel enthusiasts are fighting to protect the population. Laws forbid anyone from harming or interfering with red squirrels in any way. 

Methods Used to Protect Red Squirrels

Unfortunately, captured grey squirrels cannot be relocated and released. As part of the efforts to preserve red squirrel numbers, gray squirrels are euthanized humanely. 

Anyone found releasing grey squirrels faces a hefty fine.  

Some conservation efforts trap and kill grey squirrels. Although unpleasant, these measures show success in boosting the red squirrel population. Landowners aware of the red squirrels’ dire situation may actively hunt grey squirrels on their property.

As a result, Eurasian red squirrels have increased in number in Scotland through a surprising side effect. Pine martens are a weasel that was once prevalent throughout the United Kingdom. 

There have been conservation efforts in Scotland to save pine martens which have become critically endangered. 

The red squirrels have flourished as the number of pine martens has increased. Pine martens prey on squirrels, but unfortunately, the grey squirrels are not adept at evading them. 

Pine martens significantly reduced grey squirrel numbers in Scotland, allowing the Eurasian red squirrel numbers to multiply.   

Are American Red Squirrels Endangered?

American red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) are different from Eurasian red squirrels. They only live in North America and are also known as the pine squirrel. The term chickaree is based on the squirrels’ chatter and is used affectionately for squirrels. 

American red squirrels have stable populations and, as of this writing, are not regarded as endangered or threatened. 

In southeastern Arizona, a small population of red squirrels is known as Mount Graham red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis). 

These squirrel subspecies are endangered in Arizona due to increased habitat destruction from the urban and industrial spread. In addition, logging has contributed to the decrease in the natural living spaces of this squirrel. 

In September 2022, conservation groups sued the Biden administration to force them to protect the Mount Graham squirrels by removing certain structures in the squirrels’ habitat. The Endangered Species act has protected the Mount Graham red squirrels since 1987.   

The Mount Graham Observatory was established within the red squirrels’ habitat. Conservationists and local Native Americans are protesting the position of the observatory. They state that knowledge about space cannot justify the destruction of an ecology and a species. 

Are Fox Squirrels Endangered?

Fox squirrels (Sciurus niger) are often mistakenly called red squirrels. They have grayish-brown fur on their backs and red fur on their bellies and underside. They are also known as Eastern Fox squirrels or Bryant’s squirrels. 

Fox squirrels are found in the eastern United States. Dakota, Colorado, Texas, and Canada. Fox squirrels, and at the time of this writing, do not face endangerment. 

A subspecies of Fox squirrel named the Delmarva Peninsula Fox squirrel was endangered and declared a protected species in 1967. However, in 2015 studies showed that the population numbers for Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrels had increased and was stable at around twenty thousand individuals. 

The Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel no longer faces endangerment and was removed from the list. The restoration of this species was due to the following:

  • A ban on hunting them 
  • Preservation of their natural habitat
  • Private landowners providing safe habitats for the squirrels  

Final Word

The Eurasian red squirrel is a protected species in Britain because the numbers continue to dwindle. However, a subspecies of the American red squirrel in Arizona faces endangerment. The state is taking measures to protect the species. 

Fox squirrels which are sometimes called red squirrels, are not endangered or in need of protection. 

As humans, we all need to work together to protect all species of animals, birds, and plants for a sustainable environment. 

Wildlife conservation is vital for the future of our planet. Working together. We can make sure that endangered species are not lost forever.

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