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Isle of Wight tourists 'should not feed red squirrels'

Thu 15 Jul 2010

Isle of Wight tourists 'should not feed red squirrels'

Tourists on Isle of Wight holidays have been warned not to feed the island's population of red squirrels during their break.

This is because many of the animals have contracted infections from the skin and hands of people who leave food out for them.

Wildlife specialists wrote in a letter to professional journal the Veterinary Record that lesions found on the island's red squirrels could be linked to contact with humans.

They said: "It is common practice for people on the Isle of Wight to provide the squirrels with supplementary food, and this raises the possibility that feeding stations may be contaminated by staphylococci of human origin."

Last month, the Red Squirrel Survival Trust launched a survey to estimate the numbers of red squirrels living on the island and encouraged Isle of Wight holidaymakers to take part.

Television presenter Alan Titchmarsh - who is also an ambassador for the organisation - said it is vital that people contribute to the survey.

Posted by Carla WinterADNFCR-3083-ID-19891509-ADNFCR

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