tree squirrel

General Tree Squirrel Season to Open Sept. 14

California’s 2019-2020 general tree squirrel season will be open from Saturday, Sept. 14 through Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Tree squirrels may be taken only in the open zone during the open season, from between one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset. A map of the state’s tree squirrel hunt zones can be found on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website, along with the full tree squirrel regulations.

Four types of tree squirrels are game species in California. The Western gray squirrel and the Douglas squirrel are both native to California while the Eastern fox squirrel and the Eastern gray squirrel are introduced and not native to the state. These tree squirrels can be hunted in the open zone during the open season under authority of a hunting license in California. No other validations are required.

A fifth species of tree squirrel, the Northern Flying Squirrel, is not a game species and may not be taken. Flying squirrels are small, native tree squirrels that are seldom encountered due to their nocturnal nature and preference for mature forest habitats with complex canopy structure.

Tree squirrel population levels fluctuate from year to year based on prevailing weather conditions and the annual production of nuts, acorns and seeds for forage.

California received above-average rainfall during 2018-19, with a particularly wet spring season. “With a return to favorable weather patterns, and good acorn production, there should be ample opportunities to hunt tree squirrels this year,” said Matt Meshriy, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Upland Game Program.

In recent years, approximately 10,000 to 15,000 hunters have reported hunting tree squirrels annually and their combined statewide bag has ranged from 50,000 to 75,000.

National forests provide some of the best opportunity to hunt tree squirrels in California. Bureau of Land Management lands and CDFW wildlife areas may also provide opportunity for squirrel hunting. Please note that nonlead shot is now required when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. Please plan accordingly. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.

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Media Contacts:
Matt Meshriy, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 322-6709
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Mohave ground squirrel

CDFW Completes Conservation Strategy for Threatened Mohave Ground Squirrel

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed its Conservation Strategy for the Mohave Ground Squirrel, a species listed as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act. The 129-page document, which is available on CDFW’s website, summarizes the available scientific information on the species and lays the foundation for its conservation and recovery in California.

The Mohave ground squirrel, Xerospermophilus mohavensis, is a small day-active rodent endemic to the western Mojave Desert of California. It has one of the smallest geographic ranges of any North American ground squirrel and spends much of the year in underground burrows to avoid the harsh conditions of its desert environment. It is threatened by climate change, habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, and small population size, among other stressors.

CDFW has been engaged in conservation planning for the Mohave ground squirrel since it was listed as Rare in 1971; however, with recent emphasis on development of large-scale renewable energy facilities in California’s desert came recognition that such development could pose additional risks to the species. CDFW finalized the Mohave Ground Squirrel Conservation Strategy to help guide renewable energy and other development projects to ensure they are consistent with the conservation needs of the squirrel.

The document consists of three main parts: a comprehensive list of conservation goals, objectives and measures; background information on the squirrel’s ecology and conservation status; and a summary of actions for the species by the various wildlife and land management agencies with jurisdiction in the species’ geographic range. The document can be considered CDFW’s policy for conservation of the Mohave ground squirrel and may be referenced in making decisions in the environmental review process, funding for habitat protection and restoration activities and prioritizing research and information needs.

The Mohave Ground Squirrel Conservation Strategy may also be used as the foundation for recovery planning for the species. Under newly enacted state law, CDFW may prepare recovery plans for listed species if funding is available.

According to Scott Osborn, CDFW wildlife ecologist and co-author of the document, such planning is an essential next step to help the species persist. “The Strategy provides good guidance, but real recovery of the Mohave ground squirrel requires implementation of specific actions for its conservation. Such actions need to be planned using a comprehensive and scientific process.”

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Media Contacts:
Scott Osborn, CDFW Nongame Wildlife Program, (916) 324-3564
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

California’s General Tree Squirrel Season to Open Sept. 8

The 2018-2019 general tree squirrel season will be open from Saturday, Sept. 8 through Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. Tree squirrels may be taken only in the open zone during the open season, from between one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset. A map of the state’s tree squirrel hunt zones can be found on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website, along with the full tree squirrel regulations.

Four types of tree squirrels are game species and can be hunted in California. The Western gray squirrel and the Douglas squirrel are both native to California while the Eastern fox squirrel and the Eastern gray squirrel are introduced and not native to the state. These tree squirrels can be hunted in the open zone during the open season under authority of a hunting license in California. No other validations are required.

A fifth species of tree squirrel, the Northern Flying Squirrel, is not a game species and may not be taken. Flying squirrels are small, native tree squirrels that are seldom encountered due to their nocturnal nature and preference for mature forest habitats with complex canopy structure.

Tree squirrel population levels fluctuate from year to year based on prevailing weather conditions and the annual production of nuts, acorns and seeds for forage.

“Given favorable mast (acorn) production years in 2016 and 2017, we anticipate that population levels and opportunities for hunting should be good in 2018,” said Matt Meshriy, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Upland Game Program. “We continue to see numbers of invasive Eastern fox squirrels and Eastern gray squirrels increasing as these species have expanded their range in and adjacent to urban centers. The native Western gray squirrels and Douglas squirrels are often displaced where they overlap with invasive eastern species, but the native squirrels are better adapted to California’s forest and woodland habitats.”

In recent years, approximately 10,000 to 15,000 hunters have reported hunting tree squirrels annually and their combined statewide bag has ranged from 50,000 to 75,000.

National forests provide some of the best opportunity to hunt tree squirrels in California. Bureau of Land Management lands and CDFW wildlife areas may also provide opportunity for squirrel hunting. Please note that nonlead shot is required when taking tree squirrels and all resident small game mammals anywhere in California. Please plan accordingly. For more information, please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.

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Media Contacts:
Matt Meshriy, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 322-6709
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

DFG Continues Investigation of Western Grey Squirrel Deaths

 Media Contacts:
Jeff  Villepique, DFG Wildlife Biologist, 760-937-5966
Janice Mackey, DFG Communications, 916-322-8908

Residents of
San Bernardino Mountains Asked to Help Collect Information

Last spring, the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) received reports from residents of sick and dying western gray squirrels in Big Bear Valley. 

Researchers from DFG, the California Animal Health and Food Safety Lab in

Western Grey Squirrel

San Bernardino, and University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine concluded the squirrels were dying from complications of mange, a contagious skin disease caused by parasitic mites that burrow into the skin of affected animals, causing intense itching and infection. 

Surveys conducted in spring of 2012 yielded only a handful of western gray squirrels in areas of the Big  BearValley where squirrels were once plentiful.

Local residents are now being asked to help collect data so researchers can better understand past abundance, where sick squirrels have been observed, and where western gray squirrels are now. The website address to report information is at: https://sites.google.com/a/ucdavis.edu/san-bernardino-squirrels

Information provided by the public will help construct a picture of what happened to the squirrel population in the San Bernardino Mountains and help track the pace of their re-growth. In addition, this information will also help researchers determine whether conservation measures can be taken to prevent further loses of squirrels.

The species of mange mites affecting gray squirrels, Notoedres centrifera, is specific to rodents and cannot infect humans or pet cats and dogs. Veterinary researchers caution residents that local wildlife, including coyotes, raccoons and bobcats often carry other species of mange that can infect their pets and, rarely, people. If your pet scratches excessively or develops scabs, you should seek veterinary care as symptoms could be from one of the other forms of mange, which are readily treatable.

DFG Investigates Decline in San Bernardino Mountains Squirrel Population

Media Contacts:
Jeff Villepique, DFG Region 6, (760) 937-5966
Andrew Hughan, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8944

Recently San Bernardino mountain area residents have seen fewer western gray squirrels and reported sick and dying animals to the Department of Fish and Game (DFG). Researchers have determined that tree squirrels are becoming sick and dying from mange, a skin disease caused by mites.

The species of mange mites affecting gray squirrels has been preliminarily identified as Notoedres centrifera, which is specific to rodents and cannot infect humans or pet cats and dogs. Veterinary researchers caution residents that local wildlife, including coyotes, raccoons and bobcats often carry other species of mange that can infect their pets and, rarely, people.Photograph of a squirrel.

While the reason for the squirrel mange outbreak is not known, DFG Wildlife Biologist Jeff Villepique explained that a high population density of squirrels and aggregation at feeders makes the spread of any disease far more likely.

“Gray squirrels were at higher numbers than natural foods would support, because artificial feeding is prevalent in the mountain communities,” said Villepique. “The inevitable consequence when you combine an artificially high population with animals gathering at food sources is the eventual spread of disease.”

Photograph of a squirrel with mange.DFG biologists have been closely working with the California Animal Health and Food Safety Lab in San Bernardino, and UC Davis veterinary researchers to find the cause of the die off.

Thorough examinations of a number of squirrels from the Big Bear Valley have shown only illness that can be explained by the mange mites. Although West Nile virus (WNV) has been detected in squirrels in the mountain communities in recent years, no squirrels have tested positive for WNV so far this year.

California’s WNV monitoring program is continuing to cooperate with UC Davis researchers to share information.

If your pet scratches excessively or develops scabs, you should seek veterinary care, as symptoms could be indicative of one of the other forms of mange, which are readily treatable in pets. Please do not feed squirrels because of the potential for spreading disease.

Residents are asked to report a dead bird or squirrel by calling (877) 968-2473 (877-WNV-BIRD) or submitting an online report at www.westnile.ca.gov/report_wnv.php.