Increasing numbers of endangered redheads are being spotted in Lancashire.
Red squirrels have been declining rapidly since the 1950s, but wildlife officers say hard work and the support of the public is helping numbers increase in the county.
They are now urging people to help protect them as they forage for nuts to cache for the winter months.
Rachel Miller, Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s red squirrel project officer, said: “The Sefton Coast reds suffered catastrophic losses in 2008 when as few as one in 10 survived an outbreak of the squirrel pox virus.
“The good news is that the work of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Red Squirrel Project together with the support of local people is helping numbers of reds to increase.
“Latest figures are being analysed but estimates show that the local population has recovered to at least 70 per cent of the numbers before the 2008 pox outbreak.
“With the numbers of reds now showing signs of such a good recovery there has never been more important time to work together to save our squirrels.”
Red squirrels continue to be in serious decline due to disease, the loss and fragmentation of woodland habitat and competition from the more robust grey squirrel.
There are only a handful of refuges left for red squirrels in the UK.
The Wildlife Trusts have been involved in major efforts to assess red squirrel populations to help to determine strategies for securing the survival of this threatened species.