Cash boost to save our endangered native red squirrels
Efforts to save Northern Ireland's endangered red squirrels are to receive a £1.2m boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Funding will go to support a four-year programme to secure the future of the native red, immortalised as "Squirrel Nutkin" by Beatrix Potter, across the UK.
Red squirrels have vanished from parts of Northern Ireland and Scotland and most of England and Wales due to grey squirrels, introduced from America in the 19th century.
Grey squirrels out-compete reds for resources and carry a squirrelpox disease fatal to reds.
The Red Squirrels United coalition, led by The Wildlife Trusts, will try to reverse the fortunes of the charismatic mammal.
The project will involve culling grey squirrels and protecting conifer woodland habitat where red squirrels thrive and greys do not.
It will take a whole country approach to preserving reds in Northern Ireland and extend squirrel "protection zones" in mid-Wales and Merseyside.