Please use the above link to help Jerry and his colleagues to keep protecting our vulnerable reds.
Jerry Moss. Red Squirrel Ranger.
Interview with Jerry Moss, Red squirrel ranger for the Whinfell Forest Refuge near Penrith in Cumbria.
So Jerry can you give us a background on your life as a shooter.
What got you started and who inspired you?
I was introduced to the world of shooting at an early age by my Father who would take me Beating on a couple of local shoots. I have always had a love for the countryside.
I couldn’t say that one person has inspired me I find that I am always being inspired by some of the great people who are out there with their love for the countryside and fieldsports.
If I had to pick one person who I admire that would be Robin Page , he stands up for the countryside and speaks out on issues with the best of knowledge he is a true countryman.
How did you become a ranger?
The Red Squirrel Ranger Job was advertised locally and I was encouraged to apply for the postion and I am glad to say I got the job. I was in the lucky position in already living in the area, knowing a lot of the various landowners as I go beating and shooting on a lot of the land anyway and of course having the experience in this field.
What are the roles of the job, besides controlling the grey squirrel population?
The other roles are to monitor red squirrel populations in my area, liase with landowners, Members of the public and red squirrel conservation volunteers.
You patrol Whinfell Forest in Cumbria, what is the best part of living up there?
The area I work is the Eden Valley which speaks for its self really. The Pennines to one side and the Lake district mountains on the other. It really is a stunning area rich in wildlife and great views and also the people on the whole are really friendly.
How did the Penrith red squirrel group start and how long has it been going?
The group started over 20 yrs ago with some concerned people getting together to try and do something about the problem of grey squirrel sightings in the area. Approx 5 years ago the group started to get bigger and the committee decide to take the group to another level and register as a charity. This involved having trustees (I am one of the trustees). Since then group has gone from strength to strength we have a membership system and fund raise in various ways. The group now funds 2 x Rangers.
Most people don’t know you control the greys with air rifles have you found this a good method of control?
I find Air rifles very good for controlling greys in some methods I use in control. My favoured method is to draw greys to feeding areas I have pre baited then sit in wait for them to turn up this method can be very succesfull combined with an Air rifle which keeps the noise levels down.
Why do we need to control the grey population?
Grey squirrels are an invasive and alien species originally from North America. Not only do they destroy trees by chewing the bark but they also kill small songbirds and steal their eggs. But the main problem is that they pass on a deadly virus to the native red squirrel called squirrel pox. This is a very long and painful death for the red squirrel. Grey squirrels also outcompete the red squirrels because of their size and aggressive nature .
In all of the fairy tales and children’s books it’s the red that is portrayed, does it help boosting public awareness?
I think it plays some part especially here in the Lake District with Beatrix Potter and her love for Red squirrels.
What air rifles do you use?
I use Daystate Air rifles, and have a few of their models, Red Ranger .177, mk4is .22 , wolverine .30cal FAC
How many reds are there in your area ?
This is a hard question to answer to be honest as populations fluctuate. In some of the areas I work we have very good populatons whinfell forest being one , in other areas we have small populations. Other areas reds turn up but can then move on to new woodlands. In Whinfell forest which is 1400 acres we estimate 150-200 reds.But my area covers a buffer zone of 5km with many reds within this area.
What can members of the public do to help?
Pass the word on what we are doing up here in the North of England, show support, raise funds . Local people are a big help as well reporting sightings of greys in my area, Volunteering to help in what way they can.
Well thank you Jerry long may he good work continue.
Jerry is Sponsored by Daystate , Jack Pyke, Huggett silencers (HPP)
Penrith and district red squirrel group
All photos © Sarah McNeil.