Scots are being urged to become wildlife spotters and play their part in helping to conserve the “iconic” red squirrel.
The nationwide Great Scottish Squirrel Survey is taking place from Monday October 10 to Sunday October 16 – National Red Squirrel Week.
Organisers said that by reporting any sightings of red or grey squirrels, people can help experts track the species across Scotland.
The Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels project, led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, works in key areas to protect native red squirrels from the spread of the non-native grey.
Programme manager Nicole Still said: “The public play an essential role in our work and red squirrel conservation across Scotland.
“The sightings data collected gives us valuable insights on how the situation with both red and grey squirrels is changing.
“The Great Scottish Squirrel Survey allows us to compare data between years, which is really helpful in understanding the impact our efforts are having over time and where more help is needed.
“Acting as a squirrel spotter while you are out and about and reporting a squirrel sighting is simple and means that everyone can have a part to play in conserving our iconic red squirrel.”
Victoria Chanin, project officer in south Scotland, said: “Red Squirrel Week is a great time to get outside for an autumnal walk.
“Engaging with nature in this way is very beneficial for people’s wellbeing and adding sightings of red and grey squirrels to our online map helps us to keep track of squirrel movements in Scotland.”
Eileen Stuart, deputy director of nature and climate change at NatureScot – formerly known as Scottish Natural Heritage – said: “With invasive non-native species posing one of the biggest threats to our biodiversity, NatureScot is pleased to support the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrel project, which is successfully working to help protect the much-loved red squirrel.
“National Red Squirrel Week offers everyone an opportunity to get involved in this vital work while connecting with nature, and we’d encourage people to get recording their sightings and help this important project.”
More information about the squirrel survey can be found online at scottishsquirrels.org.uk/great-scottish-squirrel-survey.