Wanted: Public help in mapping fox squirrel sites
Friday, September 23, 2011
Media contact: Diane Hirth, 850-410-5291
If you have seen a big squirrel with a long, bushy, fox-like
tail, Florida wildlife biologists need your help.
What you saw was a
Florida fox squirrel, and biologists with the Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) are asking you to go online
and record your sighting of this creature twice the size of an
ordinary squirrel. Fox squirrels often have distinctive, masked
faces with a black head and white nose and ears but, there are wide
variations in coloration - from tan to gray or black.
You can use the FWC's Google map application at https://public.myfwc.com/hsc/foxsquirrel/GetLatLong.aspx
to enter the location where you spotted the fox squirrel. Your
squirrel sighting will be logged automatically and assigned a
specific latitude and longitude.
"The fox squirrel survey is a wonderful opportunity for children
and adults to become amateur naturalists and get involved in
conserving Florida's wildlife. We will learn more about where the
Florida fox squirrels are by asking the public to go online and
report their sightings of fox squirrels," said FWC wildlife
biologist Courtney Hooker.
The fox squirrel survey is part of a research project by the FWC
and the University of Florida Department of Wildlife Ecology and
Conservation. It combines the latest in online-mapping technology
with the public's enthusiasm about sharing their wildlife
observations. The fox squirrel survey began in August, and data
will be collected through at least January 2012. So far about 600
sightings of fox squirrels have been logged online.
Fox squirrels have been observed throughout Florida in open
woods, pine and cypress stands and mangrove swamps, but knowledge
about their distribution is limited. Fox squirrels spend more time
on the ground than in trees and often escape their enemies by
running rather than climbing. Their favorite food is pine seed.
The Sherman's fox squirrel is found in the pine forests of
central and northeast Florida and is classified as a state species
of special concern. The Big Cypress fox squirrel is a
state-threatened species in southwest Florida. The Southeastern fox
squirrel lives in the Panhandle. All of Florida's fox squirrels are
protected from hunting.
For more information about
fox squirrels, visit the "Species Profiles" area of