London, Oct 5 : A new study has revealed that the red squirrels in Britain will have only ten years before they are wiped out completely, if urgent action is not taken.
The squirrels, which are native to the UK and which were made famous by Beatrix Potter's Squirrel Nutkin, are particularly vulnerable at this time of year.
The threat on the reds comes from the grey squirrels, which were introduced to the UK from America in the 19th century, and which carry a squirrel pox, which is deadly to reds.
The population of the reds needs to be under constant supervision and the Wildlife Trusts wants the public to help them keep track and report any sightings.
Besides keeping an eye out for the reds, the Trust also wants people to report the number of greys in the reds' last English strongholds such as the Kielder Forest in Northumberland, the Lake District, Anglesey, the Lancashire coast and, further south, Brownsea Island and the Isle of Wight.
Philippa Mitchell of the Northumberland-based Save Our Squirrels campaign warned the threat from the greys is at its worst in the autumn.
"The young are moving into new areas at this time of year, so young greys could be moving into areas where they weren't before, and could be taking squirrel pox with them," the Daily Express quoted her as saying.
She also stated that the reds have only about 10 years to survive in England, and that hopefully a vaccine will have been developed by that time.
Mitchell further added that the only way of dealing with the threat was to control the grey population in areas where reds are still found.
"It comes down to which species belongs here, and which is the invader. The red is a protected species. It's got a place in a lot of people's hearts," she said.
"When you see a red, it's nothing like a grey. The red squirrel has an adorable face, long tufts, and looks inquisitive. They have much greater appeal," she added.
There are 2.5 million greys in the UK compared with 160,000 reds. Only 25,000 reds are left in England.