Prince Charles works to save red squirrels

Feb. 17, 2011 at 10:41 PM
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CUMBRIA, England, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Prince Charles has announced his support for a conservation group trying to save Britain's declining red squirrel population.

The Prince of Wales visited Hutton-in-the-Forest, a house in Cumbria County, England, where he met some of the 1,500 volunteers connected with red squirrel conservation and launched a five-year project, Red Squirrels Northern England, the BBC reported Thursday. The prince is the patron of the Red Squirrel Survival Trust, the BBC said.

The Forestry Commission said there are approximately 140,000 red squirrels and 2.5 million gray squirrels remain in Great Britain, but the grays threaten the reds' survival because they carry a deadly pox virus.

The RSNE project will join existing and new conservation projects which have approximately $5 million to spend during the next five years.

"Reds are now returning to the woodland and the gardens where they were once terrorized by grays in certain areas and this is something to celebrate," Prince Charles said.

"My dream is that red squirrels might thrive in the (United Kingdom) and it is perhaps here in the north of England that perhaps we can dare to think it might be a reality, thanks to people like yourselves," he said. "My great ambition is to have one in the house, sitting on the breakfast table and on my shoulder!"

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