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Pine marten could hold key to checking rise of grey squirrel

The grey squirrel is a typical example of the danger of introducing a new species of wild animal into the environment. The Irish population originates from a single introduction at Castle Forbes, Co Longford in 1911, and in the ensuing century their numbers and range have exploded alarmingly.

The grey squirrel is typically twice the size of our native red, more omnivorous and with a much greater appetite. Coupled with its competitive success against the red, it transmits a disease – the squirrel pox virus – which is relatively harmless to themselves but has an 80pc mortality rate for reds that contract it.

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