Delmarva

Delaware Actually Imports Fluffier Squirrels. Here's Why

While the Delmarva fox squirrel is abundant on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the rodent remains rare in Delaware

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

What to Know

  • Delaware is adding to its population of a squirrel considered endangered until a few years ago. The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control says four Delmarva fox squirrels were recently relocated from Maryland to the Delaware Forest Service’s Headquarters Tract at Redden State Forest near Georgetown.
  • The Delmarva fox squirrel is larger, fluffier and more silver in color than an Eastern gray squirrel.
  • The squirrel was added to the federal Endangered Species list in 1967 and was removed in 2015. It is still among state-listed endangered species.

Lee la historia en español aquí.

Now here is one you don't hear every day: Delaware has actually chosen to add more rodents to the woods.

The First State is adding to its population of a squirrel considered endangered until a few years ago.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control said four Delmarva fox squirrels were recently relocated from Maryland to the Delaware Forest Service’s Headquarters Tract at Redden State Forest near Georgetown, Sussex County, WDEL-FM reported. The group included two males and two females.

The Delmarva fox squirrel is larger, fluffier and more silver in color than an Eastern gray squirrel. The squirrel was added to the federal Endangered Species list in 1967 and was removed in 2015.

"This is a major conservation success story that is the result of strong partnerships and good stewardship of our land and wildlife," U.S. Senator Chris Coons, D-Del., said back in 2015. "I am so proud of the peninsula's landowners, conservation organizations, and state officials for their work to bring the Delmarva fox squirrel back from the brink of extinction."

The spread of the squirrel into Delaware hasn't gone as quickly as likely expected six years ago. While the squirrel is abundant on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, it remains rare in Delaware with only three known established populations in Sussex County.

"Unlike many of its squirrel relatives, the Delmarva fox squirrel is very slow to expand its range and colonize new territories," DNREC said in a news release.

The wellbeing and growth of this type of squirrel is so important to conservationists that the state's Division of Fish and Wildlife developed the Delaware Delmarva Fox Squirrel Conservation Plan in 2014.

The plan's mission statement uses an American icon to explain the importance of the furry critter:

"Although it does not symbolize the nation like the bald eagle, harbor beauty and fragility like the Karner blue butterfly or inspire awe as wolves and other large mammals can, the DFS is a Delmarva Peninsula specialty; a symbol of the geographic region it calls home."

Officials plan to relocate at least another 15 squirrels to Delaware in the spring.

The state said residents shouldn't be concerned if they spot the furry critters on their property, but hunters shouldn't take aim.

"Since Delmarva fox squirrels are no longer a federally-listed endangered species, program restrictions on habitat impacts are no longer applicable," the DNREC said. "However, hunting Delmarva fox squirrels in Delaware is prohibited since they are still a state-listed endangered species, so it is important that hunters note the differences between them and the more commonly seen eastern gray squirrels, for which Delaware has a hunting season."

Click here for photos comparing the types of squirrels.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us