Will Maine Be Facing Armies Of Squirrels This Summer And Fall?
Even though most of us understand the value of all types of Maine wildlife, there are a few animals that we all love and a few that most of us consider to be pests.
For the most part, even though they are fun to watch, most of us consider squirrels to be a major pest. They chew on things, they taunt our cats (although, that can be fun to watch), and they have been known to treat our power lines as tightropes. That last one has a nasty side effect of frequently knocking out the power!
If you lived in New England during the fall of 2018, you probably remember how we had to deal with armies of squirrels. You saw them everywhere! In the trees, in your attic, as roadkill. At one point, we were losing power here at the station about once a week because of squirrels.
So, are we going to need to deal with that again this year?
As far as we can tell, no.
According to the Woodland Trust website, we see squirrel population booms during years following "mast years". During a mast year, a particular area sees a bumper crop of acorns. Since squirrels eat acorns, they end up being healthier, fewer die of starvation or sickness, and they have more babies. Because of that, years following mast years are the ones where we have tons of squirrels.
After doing quite a bit of searching of nature websites and State of Maine websites, we have not really been able to find any indication that 2022 was a mast year here in Maine. Because of that, we should have a fairly normal squirrel year in 2023.
According to the Botanical Journey, you only see mast years every 2 to 5 years. As far as we can tell, the last one was in 2021. So, in theory, 2023 could be a mast year. That means that we could see hordes of squirrels in 2024. So, we have that to look forward to...