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Eastern Gray Squirrel: Harmful or Helpful?

By: Suri Zheng

This type of squirrel looks unharmful, right? Just like any other squirrel looking at you. Wrong, this species might be the opposite, they’re a type of squirrel called the Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) that is invasive to local ecosystems. 

Eastern Gray Squirrels were first introduced to Washington in the early 1900s, but due to them always escaping the area, they are now all over the U.S. being the most common species of squirrels. 

With so many Eastern Gray Squirrels it has been a problem for the local people that live in the area, for example, these squirrels can eat from bird feeders, damage property, and steal from attics and barns. These squirrels go around and forage for food, sometimes creating conflict with humans. With them gnawing on people’s property like roofs or shutters and nibbling on garden plants or even machinery like wires, cables, or light bulbs!

Additionally, Eastern Gray squirrels also build nests using twigs and branches in people’s attics, garages, and homes. They choose this place because it is warm and away from predators, a perfect place for baby squirrels. When these squirrels stay on rooftops for too long it can build up waste from the squirrels, particularly urine, if that substance leaks through the ceiling it can cause a bad odor and staining. 

There are also some options for controlling the quantity of the Eastern Gray Squirrel, with some methods being lethal and some not. Some non-lethal solutions are setting up traps, excluding yourself from the squirrels, or a kind of repellent. Terminal options include shooting or lethal trapping squirrels–although you might need a permit to do that. 

Besides them being harmful to a habitat, these squirrels can help bring seeds to many other places helping with the dispersal of seeds. So these squirrels are harmful to the environment but at the same time, they are also helping us. So are they harmful or helpful?

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