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Positively nutty: The peculiar history of Michigan’s squirrels

The study found that an animal called the California squirrel is shrinking.
Steve Burt
Flickr, http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM
The study found that an animal called the California squirrel is shrinking.

Stateside's converstation with Mark Harvey, state archivist

Leaping from branch to branch, bearing nuts and acorns, teasing backyard dogs by staying just out of reach; let’s face it — squirrels are so common in Michigan that it’s easy for us to take their presence for granted.

But, just as Holden Caufield worried about where the ducks go in winter, we got to wondering: where do squirrels go? Do they cluster up in hibernation holes? Or perhaps join Michigan snowbirds and head south to warmer locales?

Mark Harvey, state archivist, joined Stateside to discuss the state’s history with squirrels of all kinds and their winter habits.

According to Harvey, written records of squirrels in this area of North America dates back to 1651, and Michigan residents haven’t always had a pleasant companionship with them.

For instance, when the Mackinac Bridge opened in 1957, squirrels tried to use it as a crossing spot, too.

“They saw that span as a way to cross the water without swimming, and it got to be such a problem that bridge workers had to remove them,” Harvey said.

Listen above to hear more about the history of squirrels in our state and where to find them this winter.

*Stateside originally aired this story on Sept. 27, 2017.

This segment is produced in partnership with the Michigan History Center.

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