Korinne LeMaire ~ Guest Writer
Students at the University of Lynchburg have noted a rise in the number of squirrels on their campus. Sophomore Emily Dudley and junior Liz Gerhart have said that they have never seen so many squirrels until coming to University of Lynchburg.
“As a freshman three years ago I could positively say that the number of squirrels around campus has grown significantly, there everywhere and it is always more than just one there is about 10,” said Gerhart.
Dr. David Perault, an environmental science professor on campus who has studied zoology said, “Squirrel populations fluctuate quite a bit on their own. A bad winter can lower numbers, and they especially respond to changing levels in their food which is primarily mast.”
“I do remember several years ago when we had Red Tail Hawk living on campus that wiped out much of the squirrels. That hawk has since moved on and the population has recovered,” said Perault.
While students believe that there is an infestation, Perault stated, “Squirrels tend to do better on campuses and parks since their food is often supplemented by humans, and they have more protection than in the wild.”
“The squirrels here on campus sure aren’t afraid of me, so i’m not scared of them, one time I found a baby squirrel alone without its mother so I picked it up and took care of it for the day then returned it back to the same tree I found it at.”
“The squirrels here on campus have largely become acclimated to humans so they will get closer,” said Perault.
Emily Dudley a freshman at the University said, “ I stay away at all costs… their are so many of them I feel like if im not paying attention I could step on one, they get way to close that I have move out of the way from them.”
Don Lennet, a landscaping worker at the University said,“ The Squirrel population is very high here on campus but it has been like this for years…they have always been around and tearing up our grass.”
“We have never been told to do anything when it comes to reducing the number of squirrels on campus. Sometimes you just let mother nature do it job,” said Lennet.