No, the Brethren of the Lodge were not chattering away to each other!
On Monday 6th February, Epicure Lodge No.9618, which meets at Hexham Masonic Hall, welcomed WBro Ian Glendinning, the Master of Coquetdale Lodge No.5122, which meets at Alnwick Masonic Hall, and Chairman of the Coquetdale Red Squirrel Group, who delivered a fascinating and illuminating talk about Red Squirrel conservation in mid-Northumberland.
Entitled “The Red Squirrels of Coquetdale – surviving against the odds”, Ian described his work in maintaining the red squirrel population against several threats to their existence, including competition from invading grey squirrel populations and habitat change.
A hundred years ago, red squirrels could be found in every county in the UK, but today populations are largely confined to Northumberland and Cumbria, with a few tiny, isolated pockets elsewhere. It is estimated that only about 20,000 red squirrels remain, compared to several millions of the non-native grey squirrels. The principle reason why grey squirrels are such a menace is that they are reservoirs of a virus that causes “squirrel pox”, against which they are immune, but which is invariably fatal in red squirrels.
Careful monitoring of local red squirrel populations, with targeted feeding with their favourite food – hazelnuts – and enhancement of their habitat has led to a steady improvement in numbers. To provide hazelnuts in quantity, as well as the provision of remote cameras to record numbers is a significant financial burden to the volunteers of the Coquetdale Red Squirrel Group, and they were delighted to have received significant financial assistance from the Richard Henry Holmes Masonic Benevolent Fund last year.
As a mark of his appreciation for our support, Ian is pictured with WBro Barrie Mellars, the Master of Epicure Lodge, presenting a framed photograph from his extensive wildlife collection to VWorBro Kevin Stannard, that is destined to adorn the wall of the Provincial Office.
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