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Red squirrels to be released in woodland at Wildwood Trust between Herne Bay and Canterbury

ByLydia Chantler-Hicks

A wildlife trust is hoping to repopulate Kentish woodland with red squirrels for the first time in 50 years.

On Saturday, three red squirrels will be released into a new immersive, open-air woodland enclosure at Wildwood's discovery park between Herne Bay and Canterbury.

It is the first step in the trust's plans to repopulate the Kent countryside with the once-abundant species.

Red squirrels will be released into Kentish woodland this weekend

Although the squirrels are likely to be shy at first, in a few weeks daily sessions will allow people will be watch them being hand fed by keepers.

Visitors will also be able to walk through the habitat, meandering through the trees on a raised platform to watch the rare creatures at play without disturbing them.

This project is part of a major plan to bring red squirrels back to Kent and repopulate the county.

Over the last 12 years, Wildwood has been working successfully to repopulate Wales with red squirrels. Now, it hopes to work towards their eventual release into Kent.

Red squirrels became extinct in the county in the 1960s, mainly due to natural destruction and being out-competed by invasive North American grey squirrels.

It is hoped the public will be able to visit the red squirrels in a few weeks' time. Pic: Wildwood Trust (10915301)
It is hoped the public will be able to visit the red squirrels in a few weeks' time. Pic: Wildwood Trust (10915301)

But many can still remember the beautiful tree acrobats from childhood years, when Kent teemed with them.

Paul Whitfield, director general of Wildwood Trust, said: “I am delighted with the amazing work of our rangers and keepers, supported by volunteers, in creating this woodland oasis.

"This is the best red squirrel exhibit in the country and people in Kent will once again be able experience walking though woodlands filled with free roaming red squirrels."

Wildwood Trust director Peter Smith said: "Red squirrels are one of the most beautiful animals in the UK, and visitors can watch these playful animals over the summer leaping between trees in their huge fenced off woodland home.

"If we can help restore areas of woodland to a native state, reintroduce animals like pine martens to control invasive grey squirrels, we can tip the balance back in the red squirrel's favour.

"Our eventual plan is to once again see them in Kent."

Escaped animals, unusual finds and news from the RSPCA can all be found here.

Read more: All the latest news from Herne Bay

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