Ever thought about mentoring a wild squirrel?
If you enjoy these bushy-tailed creatures, have good forest habitat at your home and like to feed squirrels you’re a candidate for the “soft release” squirrel program.
The ARL Wildlife Center in Verona, PA has more than 50 orphaned squirrel pups who were rescued in September and October, very late in the breeding season. At the time, they weren’t even weaned yet and are so young they won’t be ready for release into the wild until December. By then their food supply will be buried under snow and ice. How will they survive? They need an “angel.”
Here’s how it works. As the squirrel pups grow up, they progress from bottle-fed babyhood to bouncing adolescence. When they’re ready to become acclimated to the weather they’re placed in the outdoor pre-release enclosure with a specially designed wooden box that will be their permanent home. When they’re full grown it’s time to release them, so the Wildlife Center closes the box with the squirrels inside, the box is transported to their patron’s home and mounted on a tree. Open the door and voilà! The squirrels have a new home with a safe, familiar nest. And you help them survive by putting out food for them until they no longer need it. They might leave the area but some squirrels have been known to stay and raise families in their favorite box for years to come.
The Wildlife Center is collecting a list of people who want to participate in this program. If you’re interested in being an “angel” to a couple of squirrels, call the Wildlife Center at 412-793-6900.
To learn more about the ARL Wildlife Center, visit their website.
(photo by Maria Pyrdek at ARL Wildlife Center)