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Pine marten hope to boost Lake District red squirrels

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Pine martens are thought to be re-establishing themselves in northern England

A Lake District holiday park is hoping to lure predators onto its grounds to help protect red squirrels.

Staff at Skelwith Fold Caravan Park, near Ambleside, are planting dozens of Scots pines, which will form a habitat for pine martens, which are starting to be re-established in northern England.

Red squirrels have been under threat from greys, which carry a lethal virus.

Pine martens are more likely to prey on grey squirrels, as red ones are not so easy for them to catch.

Woodland clearance and culling meant pine marten were confined to a few remote areas of Britain and Ireland by the early 20th century.

Their stronghold is now in Scotland, but experts are hopeful they are beginning to re-establish themselves in northern England.

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The red squirrel population have been threatened by their grey cousins

Henry Wild, whose family owns the caravan park, said the Scots pines are one of the pine marten’s favourite locations for building nests, and the seeds in the cones are a favoured food for red squirrels.

He said: “Grey squirrels are blamed for the drastic decline of our native reds, but pine martens have been shown to keep their numbers right down as they prey readily on the greys.

“Reds aren’t such easy meat because they are light enough to get to the end of branches where the martens can’t follow, and are less dependent than greys on foraging on the woodland floor.”

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