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Making red squirrels more visible: the use of baited visual counts to monitor populations



Understanding changes in the distribution and abundance of the red squirrel Sciurus vulgaris in Europe, as a result of the spread of the introduced North American grey squirrel Sciurus carolinensis, is vital to planning and implementing red squirrel conservation measures. We studied the effectiveness of a variation on a common method of monitoring squirrels, standardised visual counts that made use of a diffuse baiting approach to increase their detectability. Significantly more sightings of squirrels occurred on baited than on unbaited visual transect lines in trials with the assistance of volunteers, and we recommend the use of baits in future studies.