Congratulations, humanity, we've saved this squirrel

One of the first animals to be classified an endangered species has staged such a comeback that it's making it off the list. The Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel was among 78 species that were included on the Endangered Species Preservation Act in 1967, the earlier iteration of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that was finally enacted six years later.

It's taken forty years to turn around the squirrel's decline, and unsurprisingly that involved scaling back just how much trampling we as humans did on its natural habitat.

Once prolific in the Delmarva Peninsula of Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, a combination of forest clearing, timber harvesting, and general over-hunting saw the squirrel's range dive by more than 90-percent.

Now, private property owners along with lawmakers and ecologists in the areas have helped turn things around. As many as 20,000 Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrels are now believed to be scampering around, with more than four-fifths of those numbers found on private land where owners have committed to preserving the woodland they prefer.

Hunting of the squirrels has also been banned.

The decision to remove the animal from the endangered species list didn't come lightly. In fact, the FWS team ran a five year study into how precarious animal numbers were, and there'll be post-delisting monitoring to hopefully ensure things don't turn against the squirrel again.

In the forty or so years the ESA has been operating, in excess of thirty species have been removed from the list. That includes the bald eagle, the American alligator, and the peregrine falcon, the FWS points out.

Before you pop the corks on that organic champagne, however, it's worth remembering that according to the FWS there are still 1,344 species on the endangered list worldwide.


IMAGES US Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast (under CC. license)