Conservation of European ground squirrel (Mammalia: Rodentia) in Slovakia: Results of current reintroduction programme

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Abstract

Conservation of European ground squirrel (Spermophilus citellus) has been supported by the LIFE - Nature project “Conservation of Falco cherrug in NE Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia” during the period 201 0-201 4. The project activities were usually focused on EGS reintroduction programmmes with the aim of ensuring the food base for selected species of birds in areas where EGS were the primary historical prey and have become extinct. Reintroduction programmes were carried out at two sites in Slovakia: Piesocná (Moravský Svätý Ján) and Pod Okrúhlou skalou (Tisovec). Together 1 74 individuals were released at Pod Okrúhlou skalou and 284 individuals at the Piesocná target site. Monitoring of both repatriated colonies focused on the natality and distribution area. At both target sites successful hibernation and reproduction have been confirmed. The repatriation date was strongly influenced by weather conditions, especially during the rainy season. It was necessary to cut the grass several times per season, in order to ensure appropriate conditions for individuals’ survival. It was also necessary to protect the individuals against predators. House cats tend to hunt squirrels, which can be considered as the most serious threat at the Piesocná site. Squirrels at the Pod Okrúhlou skalou site were overly attacked by foxes. Intensive care (especially appropriate management of sites and additional feeding) ensured good stability of colonies, their survival and increase

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Raptor Journal

The Journal of Raptor Protection of Slovakia

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