I've been talking with my advisory committee about some ideas that I have for working with Franklin's ground squirrels for next summer. Would you be agreeable to me working with the squirrels on your property next summer and early fall? Here's what I tentatively have in mind. I would like to start out the summer by doing studying the overall population dynamics (i.e. estimate how many squirrels are there, male/female ratio, maybe map out where all of the burrows are, etc.) To do this I would need to do a lot of trapping and mark as many individual squirrels as possible (I would paint a small i.d. number on their fur with hair dye) to find out who lives in what burrow and where they spend most of their time. Towards the end of the summer and early fall I would focus my attention to the young of the year. First of all, the amount of young produced would be an indicator of the overall stability of the population. I would also like to put some radio-collars on 15-20 juveniles and track them to figure out when they disperse, where they disperse to, and what their overall survival is.
Basically I want to find out what exactly is making the population tick since it seems that so many others elsewhere are having problems. Please let me know what you think about all of this. Thanks.
Graduate Student, University of Illinois
Dept. of Natural Resources and