A new report says Ireland's native red squirrel could be wiped out by a virus carried by the grey squirrel.

The report of the Irish Squirrel Survey 2007, which was launched today, also calls for the protection of the red squirrel and for the control of grey squirrel populations.

Over the past decade the grey squirrel has spread to 26 counties throughout Ireland.

It is now found west of the Shannon, in Leitrim and Roscommon, where it had not previously been found.

The red squirrel is extinct in Meath, Westmeath, Carlow and Kilkenny.

The report warns that if the grey squirrel is left unchecked the hardwood industry and the conservation of native woodlands could suffer.

There are also concerns about a virus that could wipe out the red squirrel.

The report says action is needed to conserve red squirrel numbers, and that grey squirrel controls need to be carried out.