Squirrelpocalypse Redux

Surely you’ve noticed the flatted squirrel corpses paving every road in the area. There have been lots of theories as to what’s going on (bumper crop of ignorant squirrel pups, shortage of food, squirrel migration, and nothing’s different but us talking about it, among others), and in the Daily Progress, Bryan McKenzie explains the squirrelpocalypse. Last year there were an amazing number of acorns, supporting an unusually large population of squirrels. This year, there’s a very low number of acorns, so the offspring of that large population are competing over a small number of acorns. The interesting twist is that many of these squirrels are actually trying to migrate, seeking out a new home with more food. McKenzie writes:

Meriwether Lewis reported large numbers of squirrels were swimming the Ohio River. He sent his Newfoundland dog, Seaman, into the water to harvest the rodents for dinner.

“They were fat and I thought them, when fried, a pleasant food,” he wrote to then-President Thomas Jefferson.

Massive squirrel migrations were reported across the upper Midwest, New England and into South Carolina in 1809, 1819, 1842, 1852 and 1856, according to various studies of the phenomenon.

Apparently there are just occasional confluences of factors that cause huge numbers of squirrels to wander across the countryside, and we’re having our first such event since 1968.

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