1. ITV Report

Red squirrel numbers rise for the third year in a row

The number of red squirrels in Cumbria have risen for the third year in a row.

Two months of work by the Red Squirrels Northern England conservation found the allusive animal in 300 different woodlands and gardens across the region.

The latest survey found a rise of squirrel sightings in five per cent more sites than when they were last monitored.

It's the fourth monitoring project run by the Red Squirrels Northern England project over last two years.

Sean Wilkinson spotted this red squirrel in his mum's garden in west Cumbria Credit: Sean Wilkinson

But, greys were found in 15 per cent more sites, with their numbers seeming to be in recovery after a previous big drop caused by a harsh winter.

However, despite the rise in greys the findings are being welcomed.

"What we're generally seeing is a maintenance of the red squirrel range and it's probably the first time we've been able to say that, probably for decades, what we're seeing now is the results of the hard work people have been putting in since really the early 1990s since the grey squirrels started arriving in Cumbria"

– Simon O'Hare, Red Squirrels Northern England

Greys carry a pox which is fatal to the native red squirrels so they're trapped and humanely killed all over the UK to stop the spread of the disease. After this survey, that work will continue.

There has also been a rise in reds in southern Scotland, leading conservationists to be cautiously optimistic.

A good summer last year meant a bumper nut crop last Autumn and more food will probably mean more squirrels.

It's the third consecutive year that red numbers have risen Credit: PA

They do need help though. Anyone who sees a flash of red out walking or in their garden is being asked to report their sightings.

They're not out of the woods yet, but they may be becoming a more common sight. If you're lucky.

To find out more about the Red Squirrels Northern England and their work you can visit their website.