Animal Biodiversity and Conservation. Volume 38.1 (2015) Pages: 49-58

Critical steps to ensure the successful reintroduction of the Eurasian red squirrel

Vieira, B. P., Fonseca, C., Rocha, R. G.





Wildlife reintroduction strategies aim to establish viable long–term populations, promote conservation awareness and provide economic benefits for local communities. In Portugal, the Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) became extinct in the 16th century and was reintroduced in urban parks in the 1990s, mainly for aesthetic and leisure purposes. We evaluated the success of this reintroduction in two urban parks and here described the critical steps. We assessed habitat use, population density and abundance, and management steps carried out during reintroduction projects. Reintroductions have been successful to some extent given squirrels are present 20 years after release. However, populations in both parks are declining due to the lack of active management and poor quality habitat. Successful reintroduction of Eurasian red squirrel in areas without competition of alien tree squirrels involves three critical main stages. The pre–project stage includes studies on habitat quality, genetic proximity between donors and closest wild population, and health of donor stocks. In the release stage, the number of individuals released will depend on resource variability, and the hard release technique is an effective and economically viable method. Post–release activities should evaluate adaptation, mitigate mortality, monitor the need for supplementary feeding, provide veterinary support, and promote public awareness and education.


Conservation, Management, Release, Rodentia, Sciurus vulgaris, Urban park,


Vieira, B. P., Fonseca, C., Rocha, R. G., 2015. Critical steps to ensure the successful reintroduction of the Eurasian red squirrel. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, 38: 49-58, DOI:

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