[Tweeters] Where'd all the urban yard rats go?

Jamie Samans jsamans at gmail.com
Fri Mar 20 09:25:53 PDT 2009


I live up at around 700' on the ridge in between Issaquah and Fall City. A
great area, with very little development, lots of trees. When we first
moved here three years ago, there were no Gray squirrels at all. There was
an overabundance of Douglas squirrels though, they were practically a
nuisance. The house had sat vacant for a couple of years before we bought
it, and they were living in all the attics and walls...they were
everywhere. But no Grays, which I found to be very odd, considering the
acres of forest around us. Well we moved in and completed a fairly
extensive remodel, and the Douglas squirrels got pushed back into the woods,
where they stayed in large numbers. But still no Grays, for a whole year.
The following spring, we had one Gray squirrel arrive. He was huge,
practically the size of a cat, and fairly distinctive. He hung around for a
year, and the following spring (last year) seemed to breed and produce
offspring. For a long time we didn't see any Douglas squirrels, and I
feared that the Grays had "taken over", but this spring the Douglas are
thriving, we have 4-5 that come regularly and forage under the bird
feeders...and many more chirping away up in the trees.

This should be an interesting year, if the Grays breed successfully our
regular numbers should really jump (we have about 3-4 regulars now). The
main problem for the Douglas squirrels that I see is that neighborhood cats
won't hunt the Grays but they do catch and eat the Douglas squirrels. None
of the squirrels of either breed has appeared sick, although sometimes we
see what look like white ticks on the Douglas squirrels.

We have Mountain beaver here too, but they are quite rare, probably due to
the lack of water.

-Jamie Samans
Fall City, WA
jsamans at gmail.com

On Thu, Mar 19, 2009 at 6:47 PM, Kelly McAllister
<mcallisters4 at comcast.net>wrote:


> Well, having worked for WDFW for over 26 years, I can say, with some

> confidence, that a surreptitious eradication effort is not happening. The

> recent efforts to eradicate Nutria from certain local areas was well

> publicized and any other eradication effort would be as well, even if it did

> involve something much cuter than a Nutria (although the cuteness factor

> might cause the agency to simply steer clear of such an effort).

>

> During my last couple of years as a District Wildlife Biologist, I got

> quite interested in sick Eastern Gray Squirrels, mainly because it was being

> reported fairly frequently but also because I was concerned it might be

> transmissable to Western Gray Squirrels. There are at least to diseases that

> produce encephalitic conditions and similar symptoms, loss of balance,

> lethargy. The squirrels fall out of trees, tip over, that kind of thing.

> Then they die. One of the diseases that was diagnosed in squirrels from

> Thurston County was Yersinosis, or pseudo tuberculosis. The other is the

> round worm, Baylisascaris. To me, it seems possible that one of these

> diseases may be having severe consequences, in local areas, particularly if

> other stressors are affecting the condition of the squirrels, perhaps food

> shortage.

>

> Interesting to hear about this phenomenon in the Bellevue/Eastgate area.

> The squirrels here in Olympia appear healthy and prolific.

>

> I can't claim to know anything about the requirements of Nuisance Wildlife

> Control Operators when it comes to trapped Mountain Beavers that are

> perceived as a nuisance. It wouldn't surprise me if euthanasia was required.

>

>

> Kelly McAllister

> Olympia, Washington

>

> ----- Original Message -----

> *From:* Pterodroma at aol.com

> *To:* tweeters at u.washington.edu

> *Sent:* Thursday, March 19, 2009 9:41 AM

> *Subject:* [Tweeters] Where'd all the urban yard rats go?

>

> After years and years of being plagued by 'eastern' gray squirrels (aka

> "urban yard rats"), for the past 2 or 3 years now, they ALL seem to have

> disappeared. Good news for some, bad news for others I suppose, you

> decide. Good news here, the Douglas Squirrels have moved in where they have

> been an extreme rarity in the past and are now a most welcome and cheerful

> regular. After the eastern gray squirrel seemed to be everywhere a few

> years ago, it's been quite awhile now since I have seen even a dead one

> (roadkill) in the street much less a live one. I'm sure some neighborhoods

> must still have them and maybe in obnoxious abundance. The only ones I have

> actually seen in this Bellevue Eastgate neighborhood now for at least two,

> maybe three years, and then very seldom, have been in every single case,

> ones that appear very sickly. They have all appeared disheveled, weak, and

> just amble through in slow motion completely unaware of my presence, even

> walking over my foot once while I was quietly sitting on the back

> porch, like they are in some sort of torpid daze.

>

> My question then is, and I almost hate to ask at the risk of raising heated

> controversy (like the Canada Goose situation in the recent past), is or has

> the state and WDFW been engaged in a quiet lethal eradication program

> targeting the non-native introduced eastern gray squirrel? Just curious.

>

> Oh, and while I'm asking, one other question stemming from something I

> heard at the recent Seattle Flower & Garden Show; aplodontia (aka Mountain

> Beaver). Someone there told me that the State (WDFW) has now mandated that

> all Mountain Beavers should they be captured alive, (e.g. trapping) are to

> be KILLED and NOT TRANSPORTED FOR RELEASE somewhere else. Is that true? If

> so, I understand the reasons but I can't seem to find any verification

> about such a policy. I am certainly guilty of the latter over the years but

> in all cases of release it was done so with careful thought and search for

> areas deemed suitable AND well removed from local private property (don't

> want to drop my problem onto someone else) AND new growth forest tracts

> where their destructive impacts are often most severe.

>

> Richard Rowlett

> Bellevue (Eastgate), WA

>

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