Delmarva Fox Squirrel Recovery and Species Restoration in Delaware
Delmarva fox squirrels now have three new homes in Sussex County as a result of translocations during 2022 to the Assawoman Wildlife Area, Redden State Forest and Trap Pond State Park, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today on the eve of National Squirrel Appreciation Day. The new locations coordinated by DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife add to known Delmarva fox squirrel populations within the state at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge and DNREC’s Nanticoke Wildlife Area.
The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife began in the fall of 2020 translocating Delmarva fox squirrels captured from robust populations in Maryland to suitable habitats for the species in southern Delaware. Thirty-two Delmarva fox squirrels were translocated in 2022, 15 of them going to Trap Pond State Park and 11 to Redden State Forest during the spring and an additional six squirrels placed within Trap Pond last fall. Delmarva fox squirrels translocated to Assawoman Wildlife Area during 2020 and 2021 have established distinct home ranges and reproduction has been documented. Translocations of additional Delmarva fox squirrels from Maryland to Trap Pond State Park and Redden State Forest are planned for the spring of 2023.
While Delmarva fox squirrels are now abundant on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, these large, silver-gray squirrels remain rare in Delaware. Unlike many of its squirrel relatives, the Delmarva fox squirrel is very slow to expand its range and colonize new territories. Although the Delmarva fox squirrel was once a federally-listed endangered species, translocations, habitat management and land and species protection have helped their populations recover regionally in Maryland, resulting in the species being removed from the federal endangered species list in 2015.
Since Delmarva fox squirrels are no longer a federally-listed endangered species, landowners should not be concerned if they start seeing them on their property. Hunting of Delmarva fox squirrels is still prohibited, so it is important that hunters note the differences between them and the more commonly seen eastern gray squirrels, for which Delaware has a hunting season.
The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife developed a Delmarva Fox Squirrel Conservation Plan in 2014 in collaboration with stakeholder input to increase the number of Delmarva fox squirrels in Delaware. The plan is now being successfully implemented, as indicated by new resident populations in the state. Translocations have proven to be an important and effective tool for increasing the distribution of this species, and are the cornerstone of Delaware’s Delmarva Fox Squirrel Conservation Plan.
More information about DNREC’s Delmarva fox squirrel restoration project, including photographs differentiating the appearance between the Delmarva fox squirrel and the eastern gray squirrel, and answers to frequently asked questions about the Delmarva fox squirrel in Delaware, can be found at de.gov/foxsquirrel.