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Red squirrel killed by deadly grey species pox virus.

A RED SQUIRREL has been found with the deadly squirrel pox virus during routine monitoring of the population at Anglesey's Pentraeth Forest.

The animal was taken to Colwyn Bay's Welsh Mountain Zoo for treatment but died a few hours later. A second animal is being treated in the zoo's hospital unit.

Pentraeth Forest contains one of Wales' largest red squirrel populations, and the animals are genetically distinct from populations found elsewhere in Great Britain.

The discovery of the squirrel pox virus could prove to be a devastating blow to conservation efforts as it has hit during the breeding season.

Charles Dutton of the European Squirrel Initiative, said, "This outbreak once again highlights the continuing threat posed to red squirrels by the invasive North American grey squirrel. The squirrel pox virus is carried by grey squirrels, which are immune to the disease. However once a red squirrel picks up the virus, the animal will die within two weeks."

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THREATENED The red squirrel
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 29, 2008
Words:163
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