On a normal day, you probably see a lot of squirrels running around in front of your car, climbing trees, or chewing nuts in a shadow. You see them, but you don’t really acknowledge them. I mean, there’s nothing special about them right? They’re everywhere! Until you actually need them. Last week, I was participating in a citizen science project exploration where we had to go and scout out these different types of squirrels and identify whether or not they were of the fox, red, or gray species. I was so pumped to go and find these things because I thought it would be really easy but when I got out there, there was barely a hint of them! Not enough to prove that there is a presence of them around campus.
My group and I used the entire campus to search for these squirrels and we even looked off campus for them as well! We ended up finding a single squirrel in the bowl one day during lunch, which is kind of surprising considering the fact that there was a lot of people there. My group and I scoured the Pinewoods to the south of the LA building of the campus and we found zero squirrels and we explored the Hardwoods to the west of the LA and found nothing as well. We tried everything that we could think of! We set up a spot in both woods and sat as quite as possible, looking in every directions for these little rodents but the only thing we found chipmunks, mosquitoes, and really big spiders. I didn’t even see any off campus! I have a few theories as to why there is an absence of squirrels that may or may not be correct.
I think that the reason there aren’t many squirrels present on campus is because of the recent construction work that has been happening. The OE is being worked on at the moment and there are lots of construction vehicles around the area and using my prior knowledge of squirrels, I know that they may have tried to escape the noise. Also, there have been trees cut down in front of and behind the Pinewoods which may have scared them away or left them with no place to live. However, we did find something that would contradict these theories if they were proven. We came across several gnawed pinecones in the bowl that may indicate that squirrels are still in the area. In the same place that we found the pinecones, we saw a nest of pine needles in the crease of one of the thin trees. We assumed that it was a squirrel nest but after finding a picture of an actual nest, we dismissed that hypothesis. So, based on our observations, I’m guessing that we won’t be seeing much of any squirrels for the rest of the semester or even the summer for that matter.