By Tracie Hornung
As Columbia River Gorge residents are all too aware, a 48,000 acre wildfire consumed vast amounts of wildlife habitat this fall. Because of the fire, wildlife has been driven down from the once-forested hills into urban areas such as Hood River.
A Rowena Wildlife Clinic volunteer has noted that some human residents are complaining of the increase in animals, such as the Douglas squirrel, moving into urban and suburban neighborhoods.
However, with their homes destroyed, wildlife have no choice but to move on and find new habitat. RWC personnel ask city residents to have some patience for the situation and allow the animals to do what they must to survive the winter — especially since it’s getting too late in the season for them to find yet another place to call home.
Of course, if humans don’t want wildlife to get too comfortable living in an urban setting for the long term, they should not feed them. But on the other hand, to help the animals in their new, unfamiliar habitat the kind thing is to keep pets from attacking them whenever possible. That means keeping pets inside this winter as much as possible or to make sure they are supervised when outside.
From the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife:
The Douglas squirrel is one of the smaller tree squirrels in Oregon. The color and markings of this squirrel differ individually, geographically and seasonally, appearing a dusky olive to brownish gray with an indistinct band of reddish brown with a blackish band along the flanks.
In Oregon, it occurs in coniferous forests from the Pacific coast to as far east as western Baker County.
Douglas squirrels are active during the daylight hours year-round, although they may remain in their nests or tree dens for a day or two during inclement weather.