South Cumbria has a number of wildlife havens that hard working volunteers and organisations work to protect.

Some species are either endangered or are fighting their way back from extinction with only 10% of Lake District in favourable condition for wildlife. 

We took a look at eight species that are at the centre of South Cumbria's most successful wildlife stories.

Read more: The remote Furness valley leading the way in landscape recovery


Cumbria Wildlife Trust purchased Foulshaw Moss in Grange-over-Sands in 1999 and transformed it back into a healthy wetland full of wildlife.

A breeding pair of Ospreys have nested here since 2013 and a year later raised their first chicks. They have gone on to successfully raise 27 chicks.

We await more as three eggs were laid in quick succession last week.

Pine Marten

The Mail: The first pine marten in south Cumbria for a decade was captured on a remote camera in 2022 in Grizedale forest.

The animal was common in Cumbria until the late 19th Century until they were hunted as vermin and lost their habitats.

Forestry England had carried out a three year feasibility study, along with the Graythwaite Estate and Cumbria Wildlife Trust, to look at the best way of reintroducing pine martens.

The video was hailed as a 'landmark event' with 'solid foundations to build on'.

Red Squirrels

The Mail: Efforts to preserve the threatened species in the Lake District have been remarkably successful and according Cumbria Wildlife Trust, the county as a whole has 14 red squirrel groups entirely made up of volunteers.

A new Furness initiative has just been launched and elsewhere in South Cumbria, reds were recently spotted Sedbergh and Kirkby Lonsdale in areas that hadn't seen them for 20 years.


The Mail: Otter in River Kent. Photo: Amy Lewis.In recent years, otters have returned to Kendal in a remarkable conservation success story.

The population in Cumbria has expanded from a tiny number in the 1990s to the point where  there are now otters in almost every suitable water body in the county.

The recovery is believed to be down to improvements in water quality and the phasing out of some of toxic industrial and agricultural chemicals.

The current phase of high activity in Kendal may not last however as the young grow up to look for new territories.


The Mail: A seal pup relaxing at the start of this seasonWalney nature reserve is home to the only grey seal colony in Cumbria.

Ten new seal pups have just been born despite a challenging season.

Over 400 adults visited the area too to rest, breed and moult over the winter months. 

In total 56 pups have been since 2015.

A five-fold increase in population over a nine-year-period was recorded in 2021 with 518 seals.

Hazel dormice

The Mail: Britain’s only native dormouse, the hazel dormouse, was introduced to into woodland near Arnside in 2022. 

Since then, their numbers have been steadily rising with offspring even producing their own young.

A Bittern Award was given to the University of Cumbria Back on our Map (BOOM) project for leaving a lasting legacy in the area.

Artic Terns

The Mail: ARCTIC TERNSLast year was a very successful year for little terns at South Walney Nature Reserve, with 10 pairs producing 20 young - doubling their population size.

The reserve is under the watchful eye of wardens and over a decade, the population has slowly increased.

Basking Sharks

The Mail: Rachel found over 50 shark eggs on the beachDespite a turbulent year for wildlife in the Irish sea, the number of sharks around South Cumbria increased last year.

Some 13 per cent more egg cases from sharks and rays were found on Walney Island than in 2022.

And 3,759 egg cases (discarded by sharks and ray) were discovered off the coast at Biggar Bank.