A BATTLE to keep grey squirrels at bay in a red squirrel stronghold has won Jeanne Casken the national park’s Distinctive Place award.
Four years ago Jeanne, a volunteer with the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, who lives in Holystone, took on the voluntary job of monitoring squirrels in Upper Coquetdale.
She said: “After a year I began seeing greys and it made me think we were never going to save the reds by just logging sightings.”
Because her area is part of the buffer zone surrounding the red squirrel Harwood Forest it qualified for Forestry Commission grants and a team of four trappers was set up.
Working with a farmer from the Rothbury area, the trapping exercise has been catching an average of 100 greys a year.
In the summer Jeanne held a public meeting in Rothbury which was attended by 80 people.
Volunteers came forward and the Coquetdale Squirrel Group was set up.
It is working with Red Squirrels Northern England on trapping and is also using piping, baited with food in which squirrels leave hairs on sticky pads, to indicate if greys are present.