Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger) from a Nineteenth Century Archaeological Site in New Jersey

There are no confirmed historic records of fox squirrel from New Jersey, although it is present in surrounding states. One subspecies, the Delmarva fox squirrel, was recently removed from the endangered species list after a concerted effort was made in Delaware and neighboring states to help it.

While fox squirrel bones are found in zooarchaeological assemblages in other states, there is, only prehistoric archaeological site in New Jersey where fox squirrel has been identified. In this article (with a 2012 date, but only recently published), the first  archaeological  record of fox squirrel bones from a nineteenth century archaeological  site in New Jersey is reported.

Sciurus niger maxilla

Delmarva Fox Squirrel No Longer Endangered

Delmarva Fox Squirrel at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland. Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, public domain.

One of the original endangered species is about to be delisted. The Delmarva fox squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus) will be removed from the endangered species list by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after populations have rebounded to an estimated 20,000 individuals throughout most of the Delmarva Peninsula (eastern Maryland, southern Delaware, and a tiny piece of Virginia). When it was listed as endangered in 1967, the DFS’s range had been reduced to a small portion of Maryland. The DFS is about twice as big as the more common and widespread gray squirrel (S. carolinensis) and has been described as more laid back – they prefer to quietly roam around forest floors rather than race through trees.

 Overhunting and habitat destruction accounted for their endangerment, and they have not been able to adapt to the modern suburban and urban environment as well as the gray squirrel. Stable populations of other subspecies of fox squirrel exist in many states in the eastern half of the United States, but fox squirrels are not found in New Jersey (where they were probably extirpated by the early 1900s) and New England.

Delmarva Fox Squirrel being tagged. Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, public domain.

 More on Fox Squirrels:

3D Fox squirrel skull (not Delmarva)

Citizen Science: Gray Squirrels versus Fox Squirrels in Chicago

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Information



Smuggled Turtles Identified by Paleontologist

Shells and body parts of endangered turtles were identified by paleontologist Don Brinkman, leading to the conviction of the smuggler.

this case — which involved combing through a container with 945 turtle plastrons (bottom part of the shell), 2,454 turtle shells, and 52 bags of turtle fragments within 815 cartons, followed by a second container with 224 bags of fragments in 842 cartons — was the biggest Brinkman has ever worked on.

Full Story at the Calgary Herald.

Contraband turtle bones and parts. Source: Environment Canada/Calgary Herald