Visual display of the Aldo Leopold papers : 9/25/10-4 : Species and Subjects

				
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. 
 
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