Red squirrels are fighting back

A red squirrel pictured at Barrhill.
A red squirrel pictured at Barrhill.

The Ayrshire Red Squirrel Group has appointed a new Project Officer to help coordinate the control of grey squirrels in South Ayrshire.

Joram Smit took up post in September and has been working closely with local people to provide support and advice in the fight against the invasive grey squirrel.

Ayrshire has long been home to red squirrels but in the last 5-10 years grey squirrels have replaced the native reds across large parts of the region.

Today reds are confined mainly to the south of South Ayrshire and even here they are under threat from grey squirrels spreading south from Kilmarnock and Ayr.

There are also worries that grey squirrels moving up from Dumfries and Galloway may be carrying the deadly Squirrel Pox Virus, further threatening the survival of Ayrshire’s reds.

Early results are encouraging, with red squirrels making a comeback in several parts of the area where they haven’t been seen for several years.

Siân Williams, Chair of the ARSG said “It’s very exciting that the red squirrels are making a comeback to Ayrshire. Over the last few years greys have been spotted ever further south so it’s great to know that the efforts of wildlife conservation groups are paying off and reds are beginning to fight back.”

Despite this good news, the red squirrel remains highly threatened in Ayrshire and much more work is required if they are to survive into the future.

The ARSG is encouraging people to submit their squirrel sightings to the group, either via the website, by email to or by post ARSG, PO Box 8144, Cumnock, KA18 9AA. The group is also keen to recruit new volunteers to help with a huge range of tasks, ranging from carrying out surveys, giving talks, helping at events to office work such as managing sightings, preparing press releases and answering enquiries. Whatever your skills, the ARSG has a job for you!

Joram and ARSG work in partnership with the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels (SSRS) project, run by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. The ARSG’s AGM will be held on March 20th in Girvan and will feature presentations from Joram and Heinz Traut from the SSRS project.

Joram will be in post for two years, thanks to funding from the Boards of Carrick Futures and Hadyard Hill Community Benefit.

The Ayrshire Red Squirrel Group (ARSG) is a Scottish charity established to ensure the conservation and protection of the red squirrel in Ayrshire.

ARSG is run entirely by volunteers but works in partnership with dedicated squirrel conservation groups including the Red Squirrels in South Scotland Project.

The group requires new volunteers to take forward our objectives for the next few years.

For more information about ARSG, visit

Joram Smit coordinates grey squirrel control and operates a trap loan scheme. For further information contact: