Squirrels! Where can you possibly be at? I always see them around in the summer. Running, climbing, jumping, and never sitting still! Now, when I actually need to find them for my Citizen Science Project, they aren’t anywhere to be found! For the past two weeks, my group and I have been scouring the campus for these squirrels and we haven’t seen any but one. Some of our days we spent in the computer lab, working on blog posts and trying to figure out good ways to spot these little critters. This still didn’t bring us any luck with finding the squirrels.
In my last blog post, I talked about how we weren’t finding any squirrels out in the forest around campus. We explored the Pinewoods to the south of class and the Hardwoods to the west and found nothing related to our project. We did see other animals such as snakes, rabbits, and lots of birds. At about 8:30 am on June 25th, Amber and I walked to Gallup Park to see if we could find anything. We arrived at about 9:00 am and set up an area in the forest and waited silently there for about 30 to 45 minutes. The trip was more irritating than I imagined it would be. The mosquitoes and spiders were relentless. I was constantly slapping my neck and rubbing my arms. After finding a chipmunk, we continued farther into the forest before concluding that we should get back to school. To me, this absence of squirrels is kind of weird. Last year, I would see them all of the time on my way to and from the school. Now, I have only seen one, in the bowl during lunch. I’ve come up with a few more guesses as to why these squirrels aren’t around anymore.
My first proposal is that the change in climate is causing the squirrels to disappear. According to a study that I read, squirrels in Alberta, Canada were acting similarly. The study was done in 2012 and it stated that there was a growing delay from ground squirrels coming out of hibernation. The reasoning behind it was the fact that snowfall was reaching later and later into the year. I’ve noticed this in Michigan as well. The snow keeps falling until around late March and April. This seems like a good reason for the squirrels to stay in hibernation considering the fact that the reason they go in the first place is because of the snow.
My second idea is that the recent construction on campus is keeping the squirrels away. This may not be consistent with why we haven’t found them off of campus but it is consistent as to why they may not be on it. The trees in front of the Pinewoods at Washtenaw Community College have been cut down and the OE building is getting worked on at the moment. All of these loud machines and woodwork may be what is scaring these squirrels away. I mean, think about all of the times you have come into contact with a squirrel. Chances are, when you get too close, they scurry up a tree or scramble all of their nuts up and run away. They don’t like a lot of noise and movement and that’s prevalent on an active college campus. These are all things that may attribute to the fact that we haven’t found any squirrels on campus. One thing I’m really hoping is that when we’re finished with this project, the squirrels won’t just pop up out of nowhere.