Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is asking residents in Florida to help them in an online research project that will help them determine the distribution of a rare breed of squirrels – the Fox squirrel.
Fox squirrels have a long, bushy tail that looks a lot like a fox tail. They are about twice the size of the common gray squirrel. Most often, they have a masked face – black head and white ears and nose, but the colors can vary anywhere from tan to black or gray. Their favorite food is the pine seed and they are most often found on the ground, not in trees. They often flee from danger by running.
The Southeastern fox squirrel is most commonly found in the state’s panhandle. The Sherman’s fox squirrel, most often found in Central and northeast Florida’s pine forest is of special concern to the Conservation Commission. The Big Cypress fox squirrel is a threatened species in the state of Florida and is most often found in southwest Florida. All Fox squirrels are protected from hunting by the state of Florida.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the University of Florida Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation have been working together to collect data about the distribution of the Florida Fox squirrel since August and it is expected to continue on into January. So far, they have received around 600 total sightings. The project combines online data with public enthusiasm about wildlife observation.
But why ask for your help? The Commission hopes that the project will help get residents get excited about the wildlife around them. “The Fox squirrel survey is a wonderful opportunity for children and adults to become amateur naturalists and get involved in conserving Florida’s wildlife,” conservation commission wildlife biologist Courtney Hooker stated. Sounds like a fun way to get involved with the wildlife around us.