Last year was in Slovakia also a year of European ground squirells - this wonderful rodent was doing very well thanks to good weather and people's help. Due to the warm autumn days they went to sleep at the end of the October. They wake up when the earth begins to warm up. In our conditions, it also freezes to a depth of 80 cm, the ground squirrels are deeper. It is crucial for them to hibernate before they get well fed before they find enough food to wake up when they are exhausted.
"I watched the first awakened squirrel this year on 26th February at the Biele Vody (Muráň) and on 7th March in Tisovec. Squirrels are gradually waking up in other locations. Once a common animal, later very rare, it slowly returns to Slovak nature. Requires an area that is regularly grazing or mowed. The loss of pasture is the reason why the sousliks completely disappeared from many places. In the LIFE Energy project, at two locations in the Slovak Karst (Hrhov and Gemerská Hôrka), we came at the last minute - without human assistance, sousliks would not survive. In Gemerská Hôrka were only 16 individuals and in Hrhov 75 individuals (2015). We manage areas where it can be expanded - in addition to regular mowing, we have also removed trees and shrubs. We also fed them with sunflowers and apples, such a measure helps to survive a higher number of animals during winter, while also supporting a larger number of youngsters in females, "says Ervín Hapl from the Raptor Protection of Slovakia.
• You can find out more about the project LIFE13 NAT/SK/001272 ENERGIA on the web site www.lifeenergia.sk , eventually www.facebook.com/lifeenergia.sk.
• Project is supported by European Union within a LIFE program. It contributes significantly to improvement of conditions for the criterial species of birds in Natura 2000 sites.