October 23, 2013
By Georgia DNR
ARMUCHEE, Ga. -- Recent reports of squirrels, large numbers of squirrels, on the move has created quite a bit of interest, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.
“Our offices have been taking reports and noting unusually high numbers of road-killed squirrels for weeks, especially in the mountains. We also have received several reports of squirrels seen swimming in Lake Blue Ridge in Fannin County, with one particular angler reporting 10 or more in a day,” said wildlife biologist Adam Hammond. “What we are observing this year seems to be above and beyond the typical ‘fall shuffle’ that occurs each autumn when squirrels, especially young males searching for their own territory, are on the move.”
What is happening to cause such a mass exodus? Biologists with the Wildlife Resources Division believe that this large-scale emigration is a result of the large mast crop (naturally occurring foods, such as oak acorns) produced last fall, resulting in a larger than average number of young squirrels born this past spring, in 2013 (better food supply yields increased reproduction).
The past mild winter and subsequent mild and wet spring weather combined with low mast availability this fall (2013), suggests that there are higher numbers of squirrels than normal moving about in unfamiliar territory. This may lead to more squirrels becoming “road kill” and may help to explain the high number of “swimming squirrels” that have recently been observed.
“A similar situation occurred in 1968 and was noted by numerous members of the public and biologists alike,” said Hammond.
More information on the 1968 “Great Squirrel Migration” can be found at http://www.lib.umd.edu/blogs/univarch_exhibits/wp-content/uploads/univarch_exhibits/1968-squirrel-migration.pdf.
There is no reason to think that these squirrels are diseased or somehow afflicted. Want to take advantage of the large numbers of squirrels on the go? Squirrel hunting, especially with squirrel dogs such as feists, terriers and curs, is a great way to introduce youth to hunting and the outdoors.
For information on the 2013-2014 squirrel hunting season or other small game hunting seasons, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations.