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Old September 19, 2012, 06:10 PM   #1
Jo6pak
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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?
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Old September 19, 2012, 06:30 PM   #2
RJay
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Once upon a time I lived in Western Michigan, ( down around Baroda ). Red squirrels are a true pest and will drive out the Grey Squirrels. They are fast little guys but there was no limit on them and I was able to keep them in check. As such Grey squirrels were plentiful. However they { red squirrels }do have to be controlled, I don't think it is even possible to completely wipe them out, heaven knows I tried. They are also notorious for building nests in buildings like rats.
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Old September 19, 2012, 06:50 PM   #3
Brian Pfleuger
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Never tried such an experiment but I can say without reservation that if I controlled 150 acres and wanted Grey but not Red squirrels, I would shoot every Red I could get my sights on. It's only 150 acres, you're not going to hurt the species.
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Old September 19, 2012, 07:11 PM   #4
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Way back when there was a story about reds castrating all other squirrels.

Keep after the reds at your place for at least another year.
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Old September 20, 2012, 08:30 AM   #5
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Here in Missouri we have both red and grey squirrels, but it's the greys that are smaller and much faster then the reds.
I've heard our red squirrels refered to as fox squirrels.
We also have some all black squirrels, I've been told they are red squirrels with a dominate black color gene.

Jo6pak, sounds like your plan worked.

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Old September 20, 2012, 09:24 AM   #6
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Fox are red but not Red Squirrels

Quote:
I've heard our red squirrels refered to as fox squirrels.
In Iowa, we have the same thing but a "true" Red squirrel is much different than our local "Fox" squirrels. I have only seen "real" reds in norther Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota. .....

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Old September 20, 2012, 09:26 AM   #7
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Hunter, red squirrels are different from fox squirrels. Reds are about the size of large chipmunks, and MEAN. They chase everything away, and can cause a lot of damage to houses and other structures.
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Old September 20, 2012, 09:31 AM   #8
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Here in southeastern Oklahoma, we have the same situation as Hunter does. The greys are a lot smaller than the reds (also known here as Fox squirrels)

The greys hardly ever sit still and are always moving, making them harder to shoot, and not enough meat for me, so I go for the bigger Reds. They seem to sit a lot longer, and use the tree branches to hide from you rather than running so much.

I have a pipe feeder in the front yard of my cabin, at the lake, because Mrs.WBB likes to watch them in the morning. Every day I will see at least 25 to 30 greys come to the feeder. I only have one Fox squirrel that comes to it, but he is always the first one there, and perchs on the feeder hole. The greys don't seem to have enough brain power to know they can run him off because they out number him, and he seems to be smart enough to know, that if he pushes a little corn down on the ground every so often, that it keeps the greys busy on the ground, and he can eat until he gets his fill, without being disturbed.

That may be why they do so well in certain ares, is because they may just be that much smarter.

Just another 2 cents spent.
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Old September 20, 2012, 09:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Hunter, red squirrels are different from fox squirrels. Reds are about the size of large chipmunks, and MEAN. They chase everything away, and can cause a lot of damage to houses and other structures.
I was going to say this also but you beat me to it. Fox squirrels are the biggest (tastiest) squirrels around. Red squirrels can ruin a cabin in the woods. They gnaw their way into the roof and just cause damage.

Years ago my in-laws had red squirrels all around their home in the boonies. They got in their camper and destroyed it. So I was given the (fun) task of ridding them of the little devils. All they had was an old single shot 12 ga. Stevens (or something) and I brought my trap loads when we visited. I shot 3 a day every day I was there for three summers and finally got rid of them. They are wily little buggers and you have to have a good hiding place but it was fun. Also got rid of their golphers and chipmunks for them.

And we have squirrels playing all around us during deer hunting (oak woods). There is a bunch of black ones now. Basically gray squirrels only all black. Those genes must be dominant over gray because we see more and more of the black ones each year.
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Old September 20, 2012, 10:41 AM   #10
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I have myself seen red squirrels gang up on greys with the obvious intention of taking their nuts. In that same stretch of woods I have taken greys that have been castrated. Here in New Mexico reds and Aberts are protected, and grey squirrels nest in the ground. Those Aberts can grow very large, easily twice the weight of the largest Pennsylvania greys, castrated or not.
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Old September 20, 2012, 05:04 PM   #11
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I've also heard the stories of Reds castrating other squirrels, and always thought it to be "old hunters tales." Then last fall, while sitting in the woods, a buddy and I saw a Red sneak up behind a grey. It sure as heck looked like he tried to bite his wedding vegetables off.

Up here, Red squirrels are often referred to as pine squirrels, and some folks call Fox Squirrels, "red squirrels." It can get a bit confusing in conversation
As a kid, we saw lots of Fox Squirrels around, and as warbirdlover mentioned they are the tasiest. It's pretty rare to see Foxys nowadays, but the few that are on the farm are as big as cats. Seems they tend to stick close to the edges of fields.

We will still be treating the Red Devils as targets of opportunity
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Old September 20, 2012, 06:22 PM   #12
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Quote:
Way back when there was a story about reds castrating all other squirrels.

My grandpa used to tell me this tale 50 years ago, he also shot every one he saw, regardless of time of year. While I believed him then, I don't believe it anymore. While it may be true that red/pine squirrels are more aggressive over food and territory and will drive the meeker greys outta an area, and may by accident, nip a grey in the jewels when fighting, I doubt very much if they intentionally Burdizzo them.
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Old September 21, 2012, 04:10 PM   #13
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Thanks gents for straightening me out.

I kind of figured we were dealing with a different species of red squirrel then what many around here call red squirrels.

As I said earlier I've also heard our red squirrels around here being called fox squirrels which I would say most likely is what they truely are.

I will say the greys are not so plentiful around here and they sure are fast little critters, a true challenge to hunt.

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Old September 21, 2012, 04:17 PM   #14
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I wish I could enact operation red devils out here but apparently pine squirrels are protected...why I don't know, they are a nuisance and they are everywhere. ground squirrels are fair game but there aren't that many of them, they are geographically isolated and yes, just a couple guys with 22's can really damage the population if given the chance.
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Old September 22, 2012, 06:10 PM   #15
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Spent a few hrs yesterday in the state forest. The reds (or pines, if you prefer) are the dominant species and I've watched them chase the few remaining greys.

The daily limit is 7 and I had that within 45 mins. The 10/22 and the Eley kept knocking them down. I'd like to take credit for the marksmanship, but there's no point in lying to you at this stage of the game.

The rest of the morning I just wandered around and enjoyed a wonderful day.
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Old June 9, 2013, 08:36 PM   #16
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Update

Spent the weekend clearing logging trails and fixing fence out at the farm.

We now have grey squirrels everywhere once again. We didn't even see or here a single red squirrel all weekend.
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Old June 10, 2013, 11:50 AM   #17
Pahoo
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Are you seeing any Blacks ??

While still on the subject of Squirrels. In you neck of the woods, are you seeing any Blacks. We are seeing more and more and I'm told that they can be just as aggressive as the Reds.

On a trip out west, I saw a large Grey, that was living in borrows, in the ground. Is This what you guys are calling, Aberts? Y'all say that they are protected and why is that? ...

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Old June 10, 2013, 06:35 PM   #18
Jo6pak
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we have the occasional black squirrel around here. Seem to see a lot more in town than in the forest. I'm thinking that the color is a liability in the wild since they can't blend in as well, and they get preyed upon more.
As I understand it, a black squirrel is just a different colored grey
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Old June 11, 2013, 01:35 AM   #19
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One year I was down in the swamps on the Eastern Shore of Maryland bow hunting. Out of the corner of my eye I saw what I thought was some kind of record book grey squirrel run across a log. Later I saw more of them. Turns out that there is an endangered grey fox squirrel (Delmarva) down along the bottom of the Eastern Shore. They look like a huge grey squirrel.
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Old June 13, 2013, 03:48 AM   #20
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Grays populate the cities & towns here in this State And those nasty little Reds. They own the woods. Like little watch dogs those Reds are. Always alerting everything else in the bushes when they see a human out and about. I have taken notice the deer hardly pay any attention to them Reds and their annoying chattering. Thank Goodness.
I always thought that castrating story was a old wives' tale. But apparently not.
The only person I know that actually ate Reds was my 15 year old son and his hunting pal. A whole 12" skillet full they fried up one evening and dined on. I asked how were they. "Not too bad tasting but awfully gassy." was the sons reply as was his pal in full agreement So there you have it fellows. If you have intentions to harvest a few Reds for the table. Best swallow a box of Gas-X first._
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Old June 13, 2013, 04:47 AM   #21
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Interesting to read the Red as a pest. Assuming we are talking about the same Red.

It (the species I am familiar with) is smaller than the Grey by some margin.

Here are the varieties I am talking about (photo courtesy of Morelle, 2008)

:

Indeed in the UK, the native Red has all but been wiped out by the NA Grey that came over with the merchant ships. There are a few enclaves of Red still in Great Britain, but very few and only because of active conservation efforts, providing "Red-sized" feeders etc....
Elsewhere the Greys have killed off or out-competed Reds for food and territory.

Definitely a case of Grey Devil on this side of the Pond.
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Old June 13, 2013, 09:34 AM   #22
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We have some black squirrels in north central PA, and I believe those are just a color phase of greys. Other than the coat, they look exactly the same (shot some years ago). Don't know why fox squirrels seem so rare now. They were fairly common where I grew up in western PA, and were considered a real prize.
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Old June 14, 2013, 02:15 PM   #23
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Here in Michigan, we have all three...

the Fox Squirrel, Grey (includes the all Black variant) & the Red (Pine) squirrel.

The DNR treat the Red as a varmit and it open season all year, the Fox and Grey are seasoned from September to March.

When in college in the UP,after dinner entertainment was goi walking with various accoutrements ( rifle, pistol or shotgun) and take reds, one of the group took the tails and mailed them to MEPPS Lure Co., for decorating lures.

Fox and Greys are the best eating, Red have a piney taste.
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Old June 16, 2013, 08:25 PM   #24
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I have seen a few solid white squirrels here in the NC mountains over the years, just figured they were an albino or piebald version of the grays. We have the pesky reds here too, they are a little smaller than the grays and they overrun the woods and terrorize the gray squirrels here too. They are referred to as boomers by most people around here, does anyone else know them by that nickname? We also have a few fox squirrels, but I've never shot one because they are pretty scarce. I always figured they would be tasty and they are more substantial, I just don't want to wipe out the few that I do see. We also have small squirrels with patches of skin between their front and back legs that allow them to glide or "fly" from tree to tree. They are known as flying squirrels. I think they are protected though and aren't big enough to mess with anyway as they are pretty much the size equivalent of a ground squirrel. I just shoot the reds as vermin and the grays to eat. It's hard to beat squirrel gravy!
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Old June 16, 2013, 09:28 PM   #25
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The only white (albino) squirrel I have seen was at a taxidermy shop.
Fox Squirrels are also uncommon here, so we also let them go.

We also have flying squirrels up here, they are very rare but they are cool.

Our squirrel season runs from mid-September to end of January.
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