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  1. ITV Report

Isle of Man willing to become red squirrel reserve if asked

The red squirrel populations thrive in Scotland, areas of Cumbria, Northumberland and the Isle of Wight. Photo: PA images

Conservation of red squirrels has been discussed by the Isle of Man Government as an option if UK authorities requested it.

The House of Keys sitting yesterday saw the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture minister Geoffrey Boot answer a question from Arbory, Castletown and Malew MHK Jason Moorehouse about the possibility.

Mr Boot responded by saying that bringing red squirrels to the island would only be appropriate, given that there is no evidence that they previously lived on-island, if UK bodies proposed this approach to enable future conservation of the species.

He said that he would be willing to try and obtain a request from the relevant UK authorities about the matter.

Red squirrels in Anglesey are under threat from squirrel pox, found in North Wales nearby. Credit: PA images

The finding of squirrel pox in the Anglesey population is unfortunate and there will no doubt be a local response to deal with it. There are, of course, also island populations on Arran, the Isle of Wight, Brownsea Island, Jersey and Tresco and the species does have an extensive range across Europe and Asia. The normal conservation principles suggest that bringing red squirrels to the Island would only be appropriate, given that we have not identified any evidence that they have been here before, if UK bodies proposed this approach to enable future conservation of the species. This opinion has been strongly supported when we carried out the earlier consultation, by not only local but wider NGOs. However, I would be delighted to receive a request from the UK authorities, which I believe we could and should accommodate.

– Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture Geoffrey Boot MHK