Black squirrels are rare and can be seen throughout Reedsburg, Wisconsin. At the time of this writing, there are only 10,000 black squirrels, so are they are protected species throughout Wisconsin. Keep reading to find out about these rare colored squirrels and what you need to know about the laws regarding them.
The black squirrel is a variation of gray squirrels, and only the Northern Flying Squirrels (Glaucomys sabrinus) are protected under the Wild Animal under NR 10.02 Wis. Admin. Stats. This means taking, possessing, killing, collecting, and transporting these animals without a permit is illegal.
The flying squirrel is the only endangered or threatened species listed in Section NR 10.02 at the time of this writing. So why isn’t the black squirrel protected? Well, let’s find out.
What Is A Black Squirrel?
A black squirrel is a mutant of the gray or fox squirrel. This means it isn’t really a black squirrel. Instead, the rodent’s faulty pigment gene has caused their shade to turn a darker color. According to a 2009 research study by Helen McRobie, two gray squirrels cannot produce a black squirrel because they have two copies of normal genes.
When a gray squirrel has two copies of a mutant gene, it will turn a jet-black color. It will turn brown-black if it has one copy of the mutant gene.
The darker fur benefits the squirrel in colder regions, as the dark fur helps them stay warmer than their light-colored cousins.
Black-colored squirrels reside primarily in northern climates such as; Wisconsin, Texas, Virginia, Maryland, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the black squirrel is not an endangered species, so there are no laws protecting them on a national level.
Can You Hunt Black Squirrels In Wisconsin?
Depending on the genetics, the gray squirrel can vary from black to white or a golden-yellow color known as “Lady Isabella.” Regardless of the color, hunting gray and red squirrels during the regular hunting season is legal in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin squirrel hunting season runs from September 1 to December 31. All hunters must possess a valid hunting license.
Many hunting enthusiasts that have killed black squirrels say that the meat tastes the same as a gray squirrel.
Here’s a video of a hunter that killed a black squirrel killed with a bow and arrow in Buffalo County, Wisconsin.
Where Can You See Black Squirrels In Wisconsin?
Norwalk, Wisconsin, is the Black Squirrel Capital of the state. The city has a large drawing of a black squirrel on the south side of Railroad Street. That said, it’s not unusual to see black squirrels in other cities such as; Reedsburg, Appleton, etc.
At one time, Wisconsin was the only place people ever saw black squirrels. Today, over 10,000 black squirrels reside in different parts of the world.
Why Aren’t Black Squirrels Protected?
These squirrels aren’t protected because they are not a new species. As mentioned above, these squirrels are either a genetic mutation of a gray or fox squirrel. Therefore, it is not considered an endangered species, so it does not need to be protected by law.
That said, some states, such as Kansas, protect black squirrels. You can be fined up to $25 for harming one.
So it’s essential to understand the laws in your area before hunting, killing, or harming black squirrels.
What Are The Most Common Squirrels In Wisconsin?
The most common squirrels in Wisconsin are the gray and fox squirrels. These species can be found throughout the state. The Eastern Gray squirrel is the most common one found raiding backyard birdfeeders.
It has a bushy tail and grayish fur. The Eastern Gray Squirrel grows about 20 inches long, and its tail is usually 8-10 inches.
The fox squirrel is slightly larger than the Eastern Gray, with a brighter orange-tan coat. It has white fur on the legs and underside of the body. Fox squirrels can be seen in wooded areas but are also commonly spotted in urban parks.
Another type of tree squirrel found in Wisconsin is the red squirrel. These squirrels are much smaller than their gray or fox counterparts and have reddish fur. They are found near wooded areas with pines, spruces, and hemlocks.
The flying squirrel is the last type of tree squirrel found throughout the state. This nocturnal rodent is about 5-10 inches long and has a flattened tail that helps it glide from tree to tree. Flying squirrels can be seen in wooded regions and urban areas throughout Wisconsin.
Wisconsin is home to several species of ground squirrels, such as; chipmunks, gophers, woodchucks, and the thirteen-lined ground squirrel.
These rodents live in open grassy fields and wooded areas. Chipmunks and ground squirrels can also be spotted in people’s yards and gardens, but they usually stay away from humans.
What Do Black Squirrels Eat?
A black squirrel’s diet consists of a wide variety of foods. They love to eat nuts, seeds, berries, fruits, acorns, and insects. In the summer, they usually feed on grasshoppers and other insects found on lawns.
Black squirrels also enjoy scavenging for food from birdfeeders. They are opportunistic animals that will take advantage of any food source.
In winter, they may also feed on tree buds and bark. In addition, they often store food during the summer to eat in the winter when resources are scarce.
Overall, Black squirrels are adaptable animals that can thrive in various habitats. As long as there is a steady source of food and water, these squirrels can make their home anywhere.
Are Black Squirrels Invasive?
The gray squirrel is native to Wisconsin. These rodents were a nuisance and damaged the settlers’ crops in 1892. This led to the hunting and killing of them, and they became an item of importance in the game markets of Wisconsin.
The black squirrels came into existence by chance, thanks to the genetic mutation. Black squirrels continue to exist wherever gray or fox squirrels live.
According to this site, the black species existed before the Europeans arrived in the 16th century. Their black coat helps them hide in the forest, making them more challenging to spot.
Today, these squirrels live alongside their gray counterparts throughout the state.
If you see a black squirrel in Wisconsin, don’t be alarmed! These animals are part of the natural landscape and are essential to the local ecosystem. Unfortunately, the state does not protect them, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t leave them alone.
With only 10,000 black squirrels, not everyone gets the opportunity to see one. So if you are lucky enough to spot one, enjoy the moment and let it be.
Enjoy them from a distance and appreciate their beauty!