Supersized Delmarva Fox Squirrels Are No Longer Endangered

Posted: Nov 15 2015, 9:22pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Supersized Delmarva Fox Squirrels Are No Longer Endangered
A Delmarva fox squirrel on Maryland's Eastern Shore, Credit:John Kelly /The Washington Post

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The squirrel has rebounded significantly and will be removed from the endangered species list next month.

Delmarva fox squirrel is no longer an endangered species.

The population of super-sized squirrels declined dramatically nearly half a century ago. But due to rigorous conservation efforts, the squirrel has rebounded and will be removed from the list of endangered species next month, the U.S. Department of Interior announced in a press release on Friday.

“The fox squirrel’s return to this area, rich with farmland and forest, marks not only a major win for conservationists and landowners, but also represents the latest in a string of success stories that demonstrate the Endangered Species Act’s effectiveness,” said Michael Bean, Interior’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

“The Act provides flexibility and incentives to build partnerships with states and private landowners to help recover species while supporting local economic activity. I applaud the states of Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, and the many partners who came together over the years to make this day possible.”

Delmarva fox squirrels are the giant cousins of normal gray squirrels. They have silver gray color and can be 30 inches long. These squirrels are not found suburban or urban areas. They live throughout the Delmarva Peninsula of Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.

The unusually large squirrels faced a sharp decline in the mid 20th century due to over hunting and habitat loss. Forest clearing for development and agriculture was one of the major factors that lead to the decline. The population of the squirrel reduced to staggering 90 percent and it had to be enlisted as endangered under ESA act in 1967 alongside 77 other species.

Since listing, their population has expanded up to 20,000 squirrels and the combined conservations efforts of state and landowners which includes protecting large forest areas, translocation of animals for new populations and monitoring targeted hunting has paid off.

“The federal delisting of the Delmarva fox squirrel as an endangered species is an exciting milestone in the progress of wildlife conservation in Delaware and throughout the region,” said Deputy Secretary Kara Coats of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

“Although this unique species is secure on the federal level, it is still rare in Delaware. Through our Delmarva Fox Squirrel Conservation Plan, we have a path forward to further enhancing and restoring Delaware’s population of Delmarva fox squirrels as part of our state’s ecological diversity and landscape.”

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