Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902
DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife sets public meeting on
Delmarva Fox Squirrel Conservation Plan for Tuesday, April 22
GEORGETOWN (April 21, 2014) – The Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife will hold a public information meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, April 22 at Delaware Technical and Community College, Owens Campus Lecture Hall, 21179 College Drive, Georgetown, to receive public comments on its draft Delmarva Fox Squirrel Conservation Plan for Sussex County.
The Delmarva fox squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus) is a subspecies of fox squirrel that only occurs on the Delmarva Peninsula. Its distribution was reduced to less than 10 percent of its historic range in the 1960s, and it was among the first species listed as federally endangered in 1967 under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The species has since rebounded and, last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that data collected for their 5-year status review indicated the species’ regional population was stable enough to recommend delisting.
Despite their regional rebound, however, the species is still rare in Delaware, with only two confirmed locations, both in Sussex County. In an effort to further restore the Delaware population, the Division of Fish and Wildlife has drafted a conservation plan for the species.
“The Delmarva fox squirrel, with its large size, fluffy tail, striking silver coloration and calm demeanor, was once a prominent feature of the Delmarva Peninsula’s landscape,” said Holly Niederriter, Wildlife Biologist with the Species Research and Conservation Program. “Even though it does not symbolize the nation like bald eagles, harbor the beauty and fragility of the Karner blue butterfly, or inspire awe as do wolves and other large mammals, the Delmarva fox squirrel is a symbol of the geographic region it calls home. Maintaining and restoring this unique squirrel is important to the people of Delaware and to the ecological diversity of the area.”
The draft Delmarva Fox Squirrel Conservation Plan is an opportunity and commitment to enhance populations of Delmarva fox squirrel and restore them as part of the forested landscape in Sussex County, Niederriter said. Most of the actions listed in the plan will not be done until the species is taken off the federal endangered species list. Although they will still be listed as state endangered, no aspect of the plan, or the actions it includes, will be regulatory in nature.
The plan is a cooperative effort that engaged and incorporated input from multiple parties including DNREC’s Divisions of Fish and Wildlife and Parks and Recreation, Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Delaware Forest Service, Delaware Department of Transportation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Chesapeake Bay Field Office, Sussex County Council, private landowners and developers, several conservation organizations and other interested parties.
Public comments also will be accepted by mail or email until Friday, May 23. Please address comments to: Holly Niederriter, 4876 Hay Point Landing Road, Smyrna, DE 19977, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Delmarva Fox Squirrel is available for viewing on the DNREC website. Vol. 44, No. 71