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Mathematicians hope to rescue red squirrel

UPI News Service, 12/29/2004 

Mathematicians in Scotland aren't being nuts to think they can save the native red squirrel from its more aggressive American grey cousin.

And if successful, the experts at Scotland's Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh say their work could be used in conservation efforts around the world, reports the Scotsman.

The mathematicians are trying to work out an equation for the survival of the red squirrel.

"The environment is delicate and where animals are under threat, going out and trying out conservation strategies in the field could end up doing more harm than good," says Dr. Andrew White, a team member.

"That's where mathematical models come in, as they are able to test a variety of conservation and management strategies theoretically and safely."

The endangered red squirrel has seen its habitat steadily shrink as the more aggressive grey squirrel, originally imported from America in the 1930s, takes over. That is because the greys carry a disease that is harmless to them but fatal to the reds.

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Copyright 2004 by United Press International

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