Study into how leprosy affects threatened red squirrels

Wildlife experts are launching a study to find out how a form of leprosy is affecting threatened red squirrels.

The project aims to find out how the disease affects and is passed between the red squirrels, a native species immortalised by Beatrix Potter in the Tale Of Squirrel Nutkin, and how conservationists can control its spread.

Leprosy was identified in red squirrels for the first time in Scotland in 2014, though it is thought to have been in the population for centuries.

Post-mortem examinations have revealed it is also affecting squirrels on the Isle of Wight and Brownsea Island, which are among the few spots in England that red squirrels are still found.