Archive for the ‘Wildlife Collisions’ Category


Seeing so many squirrels as victims of wildlife vehicle collisions is sad.  As a wildlife conservationist, I began wondering…could the drastic swings in temperature be the reason?  Are they running across roads searching for food?

The type of squirrel native to southeastern Pennsylvania is the grey squirrel.  They build their nests high up in trees. In the winter they stay in their dens to keep warm and nap.  Squirrels can’t retain high levels of body fat to sustain them through the winter and eat their store of nuts to keep their body temperature normal.

The colder it is the more nutrition animals need when they are awake.  During this frigid weather we’ve experienced this winter, squirrels need to replenish their food supply frequently.  Squirrels need to eat at least a pound of food per day.  On warmer winter days, squirrels wake up and look for the little stores of nuts they buried for winter snacks. When the stash is gone, they run across roads looking for food.

If winters with sub-zero temperatures continue, the question becomes how animals who store food to ward off hypothermia can adapt.  Although we’ll have to wait to see if wildlife can work out new ways to survive the cold, we can help.  Motorists are encouraged to follow the Humane Society of the United States tips for driving around wildlife: scan both sides of the highway; watch the edges for approaching wildlife; slow down if you see an animal on or near the road and give it time to cross.  The good news about squirrels is they cross roads during the day; the bad news is they don’t realize a car is approaching until they are on the highway and they freeze.  When a squirrel senses danger, its first instinct is to stand still.  Consequently they spend more time on the road, so motorists’ patience in slowing down until they cross is required.

To keep them off the roads consider feeding wildlife during this harsh winter.  If you’re worried about them raiding the bird feeder, check with your wildlife supply store…most carry feeders which are squirrel proof.

We have a vested interest in saving wildlife…they help us care for the environment.  Squirrels are Nature’s Little Gardeners: they bury nuts which can sprout into trees and thereby prevent them from washing into streams.  One neighborhood in northern Chester County which experienced regular flooding, realized the contribution squirrels had made…too late.  A housing subdivision brought with it motorists who, in their hurry to get nowhere fast, ran over all the squirrels.  While dredging the stream near the road to help relieve flooding, workers found hundreds of acorns, squirrels favorite food, on the bottom.  This debris decreased the depth of the stream which resulted in the water overflowing its banks and flooding the road.  Hopefully, the more we understand the contribution wildlife makes to the environment, the more we will appreciate them.

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