AmericanFarm.com

Fox squirrel now on its own (Editorial)

(Sept. 30, 2014) The Delmarva fox squirrel is being taken off the Endangered Species list.
We are not at all sure how they feel about that.
For 47 years, the squirrels have pretty much had the run of the place they call home and from which they get their name.
They’ve been able to romp and play and climb trees and procreate to their heart’s content.
Now, soon to be off the list apparently, the prospect of becoming the main ingredient in Southern Squirrel Stew is very real.
The Delmarva fox squirrel was among the first small group listed as endangered in 1967 as a precursor of the Endangered Species Act which was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in December of 1973.
The Department of the Interior had warned that the Delmarva fox squirrel population was down to about 10 percent of what it called its historic levels — in the neighborhood of 20,000 squirrels — and could be found in only four counties on the Eastern Shore.
Today, according to the department, the population of the squirrel has returned to about a quarter of what it once was and can be found in Delaware and Virginia in addition to Maryland.
The folks at the Interior Department are calling the resurgence of the population a “conservation success story”  proving that you can have human population growth and accompanying commercial and residential development and still protect the other living things that occupy our environment.
The Delmarva fox squirrel is due special allegiance from the folks who live in the farm country in and around the community of Ruthsburg in Queen Anne’s County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
In the early months of 2010, the federal government was on a course to acquire some 2,000 acres of farmland there for what became known as FASTC — pronounced fast-tack — or the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center.
It was a frightening prospect for Ruthsburg residents, area farmers and those in the county who wished to preserve the  county’s rural environment.
In the course of the long battle to deny FASTC’s claim to their homes and land, a group of Ruthsburg wives and mothers got on a bus and rode to Washington, D.C. for a  woman-to-woman visit and briefing with Sen. Barbara Milkulski.
Several months later, Sen. Mikulski returned the favor and met in Ruthsburg with the women of the community.
She came to confirm for them that the feds had decided to pull out of Queen Anne’s County and look elsewhere because of several environmental considerations that would complicate the land acquisition.
A major factor, Sen. Milkulski told the women, was the presence, some in the backyards of their homes, of the Delmarva fox squirrel.
The proposal to restore the squirrel to non-protected status will need to survive a federal public comment period, and it could retain some protected status under state legislation.
But, no matter the final outcome, the fact remains: A tiny animal stood up to the might of the federal government. David again slew Goliath.
Thanks, little fella.