Ten red squirrels missing in city park
BEING handed a home in the south Dublin suburb of Killiney would be a dream come true for most – but not the red squirrel.
Of the 15 endangered creatures released into Killiney Hill Park last summer, only five now remain.
The squirrel population in the park is dropping rapidly, the Herald can reveal.
According to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, four were killed in the past year.
One was hit by a car, while the other three are believed to have fallen victim to predators.
The remaining red squirrels have dispersed from the confines of the park, one believed to have travelled to Bray along the Dart line.
"The dispersal of the reds is not surprising given the ample opportunities they have to move to other suitable locations in the area," the council said.
Officials said two of the female squirrels were lactating, indicating that they may be pregnant or recently gave birth.
The population of red squirrels in Ireland has tumbled in recent decades, partially as a result of introduction of the grey squirrel.
The grey squirrel carries squirrel parapoxvirus, which will does not affect the health of the grey but will kill the red.
As part of the project to reintroduce red squirrels to Killiney Hill Park, all grey squirrels were removed from the area.
The county council believes that the park has remained free of them.
"However, lack of knowledge about the location of the main grey populations in the south Dublin area means that a focused approach to the control of greys has not been possible," they said.
The council also said that the red squirrel project is ongoing.
"While a lot of effort and expense was necessarily concentrated in the first year, it has always been acknowledged that this project represents a long-term commitment."