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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Circumventing Yosemite's ground squirrels

Spent a few days in Yosemite hiking with good company, and defending food and belongings from ground squirrels. The redhead and I were unscathed, but our friends took some hits. So here are some groundsquirrel protection hints.

1) "Oh my God, there's a squirrel in the casserole!"
The hours of squirrel-free dining are before 7:15AM and just before dark. If this is too early and too late for meals, guard your food, and don't leave it unattended. Even if you take early and late meals, you may have to handle food during high squirrel hours. Be prepared for their onslaught, and use a brief preemptive chase as soon as they show up.

2) "The little #@$% was in my car!"
Don't leave your car door or trunk open when unpacking. If you don't heed this warning squirrels will enter, search, and destroy food containers. When you arrive at your campsite, transfer your food to the food locker first. Don't leave the food locker open, even if you are just going to your tent. Be aware that in Yosemite's housekeeping area, the squirrels have their burrows under food lockers.

3) "Damnit, that %$#@ squirrel ate a hole in my new pack!"
Don't leave knapsacks containing food on tables, on your bunk bed, or in your tent. Put the food in the pack just before your outing. If you don't do that, then hang the pack from a suspended line near your tent.

4) Don't leave snacks in your sleeping bag or pockets in clothing.

5) "That filthy little (choose an alliterative noun) chewed holes in our tablecloth".
If tablecloths are your thing, use an old one or a disposable one. Squirrels will chew the cotton lining on the underside of new table cloths for nest material. If the table cloth lacks a lining, they just chew up the plastic. They seem to always be on the alert for nesting material, including newsprint used to start campfires.

6) "Something chewed the armpits out of my windbreaker."
Don't leave sweaty clothing around. A hiker friend found his jacket had holes in the armpits.

After you've taken these precautions, enjoy the scenery.


Kartek said...

That's too funny. It brings back memories of the CA ground squirrels mostly destroying my master's project during the summer. They were ruthless but I can see that my squirrels were not the professionals you guys dealt with.

Camera Trap Codger said...

Yes, these guys keep in practice all summer long, and they are pros in every way.