Squirrels: Reds vs Greys
"Operation: Red Devil" seems to be a succeeding.
First, a bit of background.
The farm that I do the majority of my hunting is about 300 acres in the coulee region of WI. Around 150 is tilled and the other half is wooded hills and valleys covered primarily in hardwoods; with Walnut, Hickory and Oak making up the majority. As is to be expected in such habitat, squirrels are plentiful, and we have enjoyed hunting them over the past 25+ years.
We have always been conscious of conservation and always kept ourselves from over-harvesting the Grey squirrels. There are very few Fox squirrels, so we have always let them go.
However, over the years, the Red (aka. pine) squirrels became epidemic. They seemed to the point of almost an infestation. Where there were once abundant, good sized, Grey squirrels; the Reds had taken over.
So, about 6 years ago, we stopped hunting Grey squirrels completely in the thought that they would recover. After a few years if became apparent that the populatoin of Greys was not increasing.
Now, we are not wildlfie biologists, but we figured that the reds were "entrenched" in the best areas and out-competing our grey, tasty game.
So in the fall of 2009, we launched "Operation: Red Devils" with the aim to eliminate as many red squirrels as quickly as possible. Since red squirrels are a "non-protected" species in WI, there are no bag limits.
Although the little red devils are quick, wary, and small, it was not impossible in the beginning for a guy to get a dozen or so in a day's hunting. We began keeping tails as a tally, for both "scientific" reasons and bragging rights. It actually became great fun.
To date we have killed over 100, and it seems to be working. We were out in the woods last saturday and the Grey population has totally rebounded to huntable quantities.
In the first three years of not hunting any bushytails, the Grey population remained flat, while the Red population soared. Over the past 2 years of shooting only Reds, the Grey population has once again skyrocketed
We took four more Reds saturday, but as we don't want to totally exterminate a population, we have called an suspension to "Operation: Red Devil."
Again, this wasn't a totally scientific study. But it does show that game management can work, even on a small (game) scale.
Anyone else done this sort of management for small game, beyond the obvious predator hunting? Specifically, helping to re-establish an area or thin one species to promote another?
NRA Life Member, SAF contributor.