WE DID A TEST.... |
Over about a three-year period, in the summers, we released the squirrels we
caught on our own property, a total of about 90 squirrels, at different distances from our office, using
both straight-line runs and zig-zag patterns to different areas. Each squirrel was released away from
buildings, parks or residential communities. For our "local" test, releases were within sight of residential
properties, although some distance away.
HOW WE DID IT
To keep track of "our" squirrels,
we used spray paint to mark them. We used red for males, orange for females, and another color for the
specific release site. All in all, the females came back a little more often, gravid or not, when the
release site was within a mile or two. Squirrels trapped again and re-released, came back more often
and quicker, even when the route was completely different. Males seemed to be the ones (if they came
back) that were more persistent in coming back again. Most of the returnees could be trapped again, although
it usually took longer.
A zig-zag pattern within that local mile
or two makes no real difference to the normal, healthy squirrel, especially the males. Their perception
of distance is different from ours and they usually have no problem getting back. The return of females
released within that same range is a little less likely, it seemed. Probably 80 percent of the squirrels
released locally came back. (Lots of people have the paint idea, we pick up painted squirrels on a
fairly regular basis.)
When we hit the 5-7 mile range, using a zig-zag pattern, returns were
rare, maybe 1 out of 15-20. We did have squirrels return from as many as 10-12 miles, but less than
a half-dozen times. Even stranger, we had one amazing return from almost 25 miles, although HE was taken
on a straight-line run out a county road adjacent to our office. We never tried our relocation plan in
the winter, I doubt if any of them would return.
We never saw one of our painted squirrels dead,
but I suspect a good many of the missing perished, especially seeing as how the ones that did come back
were mostly pretty ragged-looking.
Releasing squirrels at night, and at a 10 mile range was virtually
certain to eliminate their return - even locally, if the release site was at least a mile away. We only
had two return under those conditions, although one male was back two days later.
we used were not rogue squirrels, and not squirrels we had retrieved in the course of our business activities.
We could not risk releasing squirrels caught at a customer's, in the event they would return. Our "test"
squirrels were trapped on our property and released that same day or that night.