Squirrel reserve’s off-limit to ring hunters

LONDON: Treasure hunters are banned from an English squirrel reserve where the fiancee of football star Wayne Rooney is thought to have thrown her engagement ring in a pique of anger. 

Coleen McLoughlin reportedly dumped the £25,000 (US$46,000) ring in the Formby Point nature reserve after a row with Rooney over claims that the Everton and England striker had sex with an escort girl. 

The reserve – home to about 300 endangered red squirrels – belongs to the National Trust, which let it be known on Tuesday that treasure hunters eager to find the ring would not be welcome. 

“We really do not want people trampling through the woods and disturbing the squirrels,” said National Trust spokeswoman Debbie Peers. 

“Metal detectors are banned from the reserve anyway and we will enforce this,” she added. “Anybody who is seen disturbing the squirrels will be asked to leave.” 

Formby Point is close to the luxury home in the north of England where Rooney and McLoughlin live.  

News of their spat appeared in The Sun newspaper, which had exclusive access to Rooney during the Euro 2004 championships. 

There are only 160,000 red squirrels left in Britain, compared to 2.5 million grey squirrels, a North American species whose talent for gathering food more quickly is blamed for their red cousins' plight. – AFP  

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