ON A WIRE: A VISUAL STORY ABOUT EASTERN GREY SQUIRRELS AND BRITISH COLUMBIANS

 

Eastern grey squirrels are everywhere; they are present in our parks, our backyards, and even on our roofs. People have strong feelings about them, and many consider them a nuisance, raiding our bird feeders and nesting inside our homes. A few individuals were brought to Stanley Park and released decades ago, and they adapted very well. Then it happened on Vancouver Island, and again they thrived.

Our government decided to act, and they were listed as an invasive species, becoming a threat in the province. Public guidelines based on European data and science were released as official sources of information about them, but they did not necessarily apply to our environment. Today, eastern greys are found in almost any urban environment in southern British Columbia, and they have become as common as the misconceptions we have about them.

So how do we relate as a society to eastern greys today? What is true about them and what is not?

The story will address these questions and explore how the species has adapted so well to our cities. It will be based on scientific knowledge of their behaviour and on experience from professionals that work with them on a regular basis. I will also offer insights from my own observations of eastern greys over the past three years. I closely observed a few individuals around my home since the pandemic began, and I was able to witness many interesting social interactions.

Some of the sources that will be included in the story are biologists, wildlife rehabilitation centres, pest control companies, neighbours, and children’s books. I will also use the case of an American entertainment company that performed an illegal show with eastern greys in B.C. in 2020. The story will take a familiar subject and present it in a new way to readers, both visually and in words.

TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY LEONARDO DEGORTER

On a Wire
how eastern greys conquered the west

All photographs © Leonardo DeGorter