Red squirrel kittens causing a stir at Larne’s Carnfunnock Country Park

The scurry of red squirrel kittens has been causing great excitement for the partnership behind a project to re-establish the native species in Larne’s Carnfunnock Country Park.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 2:39 pm

The project by Ballygally Biodiversity Group (BBG), Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Cairndhu Golf Club, Ulster Wildlife and Belfast Zoo has now produced breeding red squirrels in the park.

The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston learnt more when he met with the volunteers at Carnfunnock Country Park to thank them for their hard work and determination.

“This project demonstrates council’s commitment to working with local groups to conserve and enhance biodiversity throughout the borough and our commitment to protecting green space for the community,” the Mayor said.

The Mayor of Mid & East Antrim, Cllr Peter Johnston, with Carnfunnock Red Squirrel Group members Jennifer McManus, Derna McCurdy and Joe Dowdall.

“It is important for environmental education and recreational enjoyment. Red squirrels are shy creatures but as numbers continue to increase I hope our human visitors will get the opportunity to see these beautiful creatures thriving in their natural habitat.

“The plight of the red squirrel is one which has exercised the efforts of environmentalists across the UK for a number of years, and indeed His Royal Highness, the Princes of Wales, is the patron of the Red Squirrel Survival Trust, and has a passion for this endangered species.”

Joe Dowdall, senior red squirrel officer for the BBG, said: “This proves that with co-operation and goodwill between the various organisations and agencies coupled with hard work and dedication, a native species can be returned to its natural environment to enhance the biodiversity of the local area.”

Joe also praised the hard work of the volunteers who have looked after the release site and the squirrel reserve area on the edge of the golf club and park.

Derna McCurdy, one of the most active volunteers on site, pledged continuing support for the red squirrel into the future as they expand to colonise the park and Chaine’s Wood, which obtained Local Nature Reserve status last year.

The designation of the wood means the site is protected as a home to the red squirrel and other native wildlife, and it is hoped that within the next two years, the woodland will become an established and sustainable habitat for the animals.

--

Click here to read: Red squirrel population boosted at Carnfunnock

--

Thank you for reading this article. We’re more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers. Please consider purchasing a copy of the paper. You can also support trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription of the News Letter.