Cash to protect red squirrels in Northumberland
A group protecting threatened red squirrels in Northumberland has been given a cash boost.
The Forestry Commission has pledged £13,000 to help prevent grey squirrels encroaching on the Harwood Forest reserve, near Rothbury.
It will enable the Upper Wansbeck and Coquetdale Red Squirrel Group to employ an experienced trapper.
Grey squirrels carry a pox virus harmless to themselves but fatal to their red cousins.
The commission said it offers grants to help tackle the spread of the greys using humane traps and methods.
An increasing number of greys have been spotted close to the buffer zone around the reserve.
The grant, spread over three years, will pay for an experienced trapper to work on land within the zone owned by a local farmer.
Richard Pow, from the Forestry Commission, said: "We have 17 red squirrel reserves in northern England and the work undertaken in the buffer zones is vital.
"This is the first time we have funded a group, rather than a specific landowner, to co-ordinate conservation work and we think this model has a big future.
"Support from the local community makes a massive difference in improving the prospects for reds in Coquetdale."