Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
A new research project being conducted by the University of Florida Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation is asking members of the public across the state to report their recent fox squirrel sightings.
The fox squirrel, named for its striking fox-like tail, is a charismatic mammal approximately twice the size of the common gray squirrel. In Florida, three subspecies of fox squirrel occur; the Sherman’s Fox squirrel is located in the north central part of the state, the Southeastern fox squirrel in the panhandle and the Big Cypress fox squirrel in the southern. The fox squirrel may be found throughout Florida in open woods, pine and cypress stands. Management of fox squirrel habitat requires the application of frequent controlled burns to mimic natural lightning ignited fires.
Fox squirrels would occupy almost every county in the state, but their distribution is patchy and not well understood. A research project spearheaded by Dr. Bob McCleery and Courtney Hooker, a professor and graduate assistant in the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida, has just been initiated to try and develop a better understanding of fox squirrel distribution at the landscape level. The last fox squirrel distribution survey was completed in 1997 and much has changed in Florida since that time. Through this work, researchers hope to develop a new distribution map for the fox squirrel that will be used to improve management and conservation of the species.
To help them achieve this they are asking members of the public to report fox squirrel sightings through a new website. If you see a fox squirrel please report it at https://public.myfwc.com/hsc/foxsquirrel/GetLatLong.aspx. By doing so, you will be contributing to this important research and the conservation of the fox squirrel.
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