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Petember I I IfI . G F'ish & Game Carson TIhe £tate Executive Committee, New exico Game Iroteotive Association. Gentlemen: "orie years ago there was added to the iot of leoally rrotected rame animals in the State of New 'exico the Tseel Pared Gray Siuirrel. At that time, and under then existing conditiors,' there could perhars have been no question as to the wisdom and propriety of the action. It was strictly along the lines of gre conservation, with which all right-minded citizens ere in accord, and was designed to protect and perpetuate an interesting, more or less valuable and, as was then surrosed, a harmless erocies of wild life in our forests. Since that tire, however, not only have conditions been changed over large areas in our forests, h'ut we have become more familiar with the habits of this aniral. T result is that he is at present looked upon as a distinct menace to the perpetuation of our pine forests by men who are a ilior with his activities from day to day. We are mainly interested in rerretuating the forests, en if we succeed in this all manner of wild life can and should find nuhsistence and sanctuary in it. If we fail in this, however, we certainly lose our most valuable gae animals as well srs tremendously valuable asset both to the Natior aPd Ftrte. Probably no one will question the, statement that the souirrel is far less valuable than the tree he lives in. 4 jo observer, with the faculty of reasoninr fro- cause to e-Te-t, after spending some time in a pine forest where the eirrel in- habits, will deny that the actual damage by the Poi irrel to tle timber is, in the aggregate, immense. Thi damae Is of two separate and distinct kinds, but both connected with his f'edir habits. The tassel-eared souirrel's chief articles of diet are (1) pine seed, and (2) the tender bar' on the outer B to In inches of the terminal twigs of the tree. Were it the gray scuirrel's habit to feed on ripened seed alone, as is the case with othr srecies, the damage would be very much lessened, as in that case a very abundant seed cror might, despite his best efforts, serve to reseed the ground. On the contrary, he eats the rire seed sraringly, if atall, and so far as known lays ur no hoard stall, being less provident than his smaller cousins in this reect. The Yellow Pine requires two years to mature its sed. Consequently it has to run the Pantlet twice. First fror the
squirrel's habit of cliping the twigs for the salke of the bark, irrespective of whether they bear small cones and, second, from his habit of cutting the cones for the immature seed in their second year. It is a very common sigbt to see the ground under a fine tree carpeted with these clipped twigs, many bearing fro- 2 to 4 small cones, and only the gnawed "cobs" remaining of such as had reached their second year. Also, it is cormon to find large isolated trees which, because they are the most rrolific seed bearers, have been selected by the squirrels, and which after standing 200 or 300 years still have no rerroductior around them. The main reason is often as plain as rrint In the rnewed cones at their bases. In a virgin forest the squirrel might be tolerated or the score of seed destruction, and even though it is a fact that on our " tional Vorest timber sales a great many y-rng trres have to74 at solely because they are in an unthrifty condition from havin" their crowns thinned by squirrels. The real an serious scuirrel damage takes place, not in our virgin forests, but on our many thousands of acres of cut-over lands whicY we are -ar- ticularly anxious to restock---and the longer this is rostponed the harder it is to accomplish as all foresters know. On these tracts the activities of the squirrels are, necessarily, concen- trated on the few seed-bearing trees (about 7 rer acre) which are left to re-seed the area. While reducing their natural food supply by rnrroximately f7,, we are, at the same time, rapidly multiplying the scuirrels by legal protection. Owing to the open season on squirrels bein but a mere ten days in the year, and this season being ientical with that on other and larger game, it works out that rractically no squirrels are killed by hunters. he average man who nayn for a hunting license and goes into the woods in deer and turkey season is not likely to destroy his chances for larger game by shooting squirrels. At any rate, as a matter of observation, they have greatly increased in numbers since the law has been !n effect. With a more complete knowl2ed-e of the feedinr habits of this animal than we formerly had, courled with the recess:ity and desirability of harvesting our mature timber and reforesting the area, it at once becomes arparent to anyone interested and in a position to observe, that we are disturbing the balance of nature to an alarming and dangerous extent and, inasmuch Fs re-forestation is of immensely greater imprtance to the state and the 1at1or than the perpetuation, or rather, under the present lan, the practically complete protection, of a species whose chief value is esthetic or sentimental, it is believed that the Tsssel-eared Gray Scuirrel should be stricken from the list of rrotected game animals. In very truth, considering their canacity for danai'e and present rate of increase, it seems not beyond the range of probability that eventually it may be found necessary,"for(t-e greatest good to the largest number", to go so far as to place a bounty on their scalps. -10