One factor I believe is missing is that we have fewer stray domesticated predators roaming cities these days - ownerless cats and dogs used to roam major urban centers in much greater numbers.
It's strange to think that the public park is only about 150 years old. Kind of the same age as the modern state, maybe.
And that's probably not a coincidence.
Those little vermin ate my kale. Suddenly, they're much less cute.
How about the Urban Crow? Have they always been present? They seem to be a major constituent of the Los Angeles bird population.
Also there was the addition of overhead electric and telephone wires. In areas where tree are far apart, there can be constant squirrel traffic on the wires.
I shot a squirrel the other day because I was on my roof trying to rip a hole in the eaves to make a winter nest in the attic. The recent cold weather has sent them into a frenzy of trying to rip their way into houses on our street. I hit this one from about 45 feet with 8 pumps on a Crossman b-b gun, which is strong enough to penetrate 10 layers of cardboard box.
They are much more prevalent and widespread now than they were in the past. This is an interesting book about it. http://www.amazon.com/Company-Crows-Ravens-John-Marzluff/dp/0300122551
Just skimmed this paper: URBAN CROW ROOSTS IN CALIFORNIA - [PDF]
Looks like they moved to the CA cities in the 1960's
You just need to provide alternative food sources:
It has been noted by a recently retired librarian that there were no squirrels when he moved here (a Willamette Valley town) some 30 years ago, and there are now gray and red squirrels coming into town. Certainly I too have not seen squirrels here for 9 out of the 10 years of living here, until this year. This is not an area that has been highly developed, not at all, just the fields of the valley have not been friendly and the increased trees because of human cultivation have improved habitat locally, no need for introduction. Of course, coyotes are coming into town too now which is also new.
Some time around 1890 there was Scientific American article about the increasing crow population that seemed to be the result of farming.
About twenty years ago, the crow population in our neighbourhood of Toronto was steadily increasing. We would see quite large flocks, especially on garbage day. West Nile virus reached Ontario in 2001. I can't remember when I last saw a crow.
These population fluctuations can be very localized. We had lots of squirrels in our yard until we had to cut down our big maple tree. They weren't nesting in it, but it must have provided a comforting escape route/thoroughfare. They are still nearby, but not as much on our property. OTOH, chipmunk activity is way up. I think squirrel aggression must have been keeping these adorable little pests away.
Last year we had some employees in town from our Shenzen office.
One afternoon, as I was leaving for lunch, I passed three young ladies from the group standing under a tree, cameras ready, to take pictures of the squirrels gadding about a feeder put up there by one of the local co-workers. They seemed really amazed by the critters.
It is really odd, thinking of squirrels as exotic beasts worth taking pictures of, but there you go.
Oh, the squirrel feeder? Removed, because the fricking tree-rats were sneaking under car hoods and chewing on the wiring. Several cars suffered hundreds of dollars in electrical system damage.
Private parks are much older, though. They said to the owners guests-- I have no need to rent out this land to tenant farmers.
I just want them to stay the hell off my bird feeders. Lately they have taken to flinging themselves down seven feet from the eaves to crash onto the frame and consume sunflower seed by the pound. I have slow-mo footage that is pretty wild.
Typo in the first paragraph: you typed "vermin" when you meant "adorable little scamps".
As a graduate student I spent a lot of time looking out the window and watching the squirrels.
Did you eat him? If you're gonna shoot a squirrel, you should at least eat 'im. (Or feed him to your pet ferret or something.)
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