Squirrel suspension bridge slung across highland road by Trees for Life conservation charity as part of their reintroduction project
Published on Thursday, 9th August 2018
A special squirrel suspension bridge has been erected over a road near Shieldaig, Scotland to help the endangered species avoid dangerous road traffic.
Conservation charity, Trees for Life, is running a reintroduction project focussed on increasing the population of red squirrels in the northwest Highlands of Scotland. As part of this effort, they installed a bridge over a road near Shieldaig to help the squirrels avoid the dangerous road traffic below.
The bridge has proven popular with the local red squirrel population – camera footage collected over the last year has revealed a healthy number of the animals using the new structure to cross the road safely.
Nearby road signs alerting drivers to the presence of red squirrels have also helped decrease the number of squirrels dying on the road significantly over the past 12 months.
‘Sadly, road traffic is a major risk for wildlife – including red squirrels,’ said Becky Priestley, Trees for Life’s Wildlife Officer. ‘We wanted to take positive action to help the red squirrel population spread into the local woodlands as safely as possible.
‘The combination of bridge and road signs definitely appears to be working well which is great news.
‘It’s safer for reds to travel in the tree canopy rather than on the ground so it’s likely that, if they have the option of using a bridge rather than crossing the road, they will take it,’ she continued. ‘We also installed feeders at each end of the bridge to encourage the squirrels to use it.’
The bridge is suspended over the A896 outside Shieldaig village, alongside the Ben Shieldaig woodland – one of Scotland’s few remaining fragments of ancient Caledonian Forest – and is the product of a collaboration between the Trees for Life charity, local climber Chris Hingley, the Highland Council, Kinloch Woodlands SCIO and Ben Shieldaig Estate.
Today, only an estimated 120,000 red squirrels remain in Scotland – their numbers decimated by the reduction of their forest homes to isolated remnants and the introduction of grey squirrels to the country. Trees for Life has been working on increasing the red squirrel population of Scotland for the past three years.
The organisation's Reds Return appeal is attempting to raise £22,000 to enable the charity to reintroduce red squirrels in up to eight more Highlands woodland areas, where they will be safe from the competition and disease that grey squirrels represent and, therefore, be able to flourish.
Visit the charity’s website to find out more.