Save Mount Diablo–Lindsay Wildlife Experience Collaboration
Save Mount Diablo (SMD) partnered with Lindsay Wildlife Experience to release eight California ground squirrels into the wildlands east of Mount Diablo. A week prior to the release, Lindsay Wildlife’s squirrel specialists, Deb Santone and Kerry Kilmer, along with SMD’s Land Programs Director Sean Burke, visited Curry Canyon Ranch to survey if this location would be a good place to release the young squirrels.
They were looking for a location with existing tunnels in the ground to provide shelter and protection to these young rehabilitated squirrels. The squirrels were brought to the Lindsay Wildlife hospital from various locations all over the East Bay.
A Keystone Species
Considered a keystone species of the Mount Diablo environment, ground squirrels lay a foundation of food and shelter for so many other animals. Without keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether.
Hundreds of years ago, squirrels may have fed grizzly bears that denned in rugged areas like Round Valley and Morgan Territory. Today, ground squirrels nourish golden eagles, northern harriers, prairie and peregrine falcons, red-tailed hawks, Swainson’s hawks, and coyotes. Two or three feet below ground, they share their burrows with many animals, including red-legged frogs, Alameda whipsnakes, rattlesnakes, burrowing owls, weasels, badgers, and foxes.
Needless to say, many species of animals through the food chain depend on ground squirrels for their existence. Wildlife corridors depend on ground squirrel colonies.
The more colonies that exist throughout a wildland area, the more diversity exists within a larger scale. The more ground squirrels in the area, the richer the biodiversity, resulting in a much more vast wildlife corridor.
2019 Mary Bowerman Science and Research Grant Recipient Studies Squirrels
Last year, Amanda Robin, a PhD student in ecology and evolutionary biology at UCLA, received one of Save Mount Diablo’s 2019 Mary Bowerman Science and Research Program grants to study squirrels, their burrows, and their behavior underground. Read more about her research on the secret lives of squirrels.
Save Mount Diablo Audible Guide on Beechey Ground Squirrels
Check out this Audible Guide on Beechey ground squirrels at Round Valley and their importance as a keystone species.