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Delmarva fox squirrels, once an endangered species, to be released in Sussex

It's important for hunters to note the difference between eastern gray squirrels and Delmarva fox squirrels.

A squirrel species once struggling to survive will be released into the Assawoman Wildlife Area in the Ocean View athis month.

Delmarva fox squirrels, which were removed from the federal endangered species list in 2015, are now fairly abundant on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. 

However, unlike the common and prolific eastern gray squirrels, the Delmarva fox squirrel is slow to expand its range and colonize new areas. There are only two known populations in Delaware, at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge and the Nanticoke Wildlife Area.

To faster increase the species’ numbers and secure its permanence, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and its partners created a Delmarva Fox Squirrel Conservation Plan in 2014. Following research, that plan is now being implemented.

Squirrels captured from Dorchester County, Maryland, will be released into the Assawoman Wildlife Area in southeastern Sussex County starting in mid-September. Some of them will be fitted with collars to track their movements.

BACKGROUND: Delmarva fox squirrel removed from the endangered species list after 50 years

More:52 acres added to Assawoman Wildlife Area in Dagsboro

The process is called “translocation,” which has proven to be an important and effective tool, according to DNREC. At least two more translocations of the species to Delaware are planned within the next five years.

The hunting of Delmarva fox squirrels is prohibited, so it's important hunters note the difference between them and eastern gray squirrels.