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What’s Going On With All The Dead Squirrels?

What’s Going On With All The Dead Squirrels?

If you live in New England, you may have seen an increase in squirrel activity, including the number of them dead on the roadways. It seems you can’t travel 100 feet without having a squirrel dart out in front of you as they make their way across the road; some don’t make it. We’ve gotten countless messages on our Facebook page and comments on our website from people asking, “what’s going on with all the dead squirrels?” wondering if it has anything to do with the harsh winter we’re predicting.

While folklore tells us that squirrels gathering nuts early is one of the 20 signs of a hard winter, there appears to be a bit more going on.

Here’s what we found out.

What’s Going On With All The Dead Squirrels?

According to a Maine state wildlife biologist, we had a “mast” year for acorns and other nuts last fall (meaning more than usual), which has led to a population explosion of squirrels (who have an average of 3-6  young in a litter). So there are more squirrels this year gathering nuts from the back-to-normal food supply. Unfortunately, they’re displaying erratic behavior and taking more risks (which we assume is where folklore comes in about the harsh winter ahead—they’re getting ready), resulting in increased road deaths.

A New Hampshire state wildlife biologist confirmed that they, too, are seeing a large number of squirrel roadkill in their state. In fact, one motorist reported counting 390 dead squirrels in a 50-mile drive to the Massachusetts border. Unfortunately, this flurry of squirrel activity is going to continue right through the fall.

How To Avoid Hitting Them?

Experts say don’t swerve. Squirrels dart about to confuse predators as a survival mechanism. So because they see automobiles as predators, your best bet is to drive in a straight line.

What about where you live? Have you been seeing a lot of squirrel activity and roadkill? Tell us in the comments below.

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  • Tim B says:

    I’ve found a dead squirrel under a large oak in my yard yesterday and another one in the same spot today. Both appear to be adults, no noticeable injuries. The only thing we’ve done different lately is added a bird feeder and bird bath to our yard. Is this normal this time of year in central Georgia?

  • Richie says:

    Squirrels around her are suicidal: I drove over/by 10 road kill squirrels this afternoon!!

  • Richie says:

    Yes, the squirrels must be in suicidal phase, driving in a 10 mile radius today, I counted 8 road-kill squirrels with 5 miles of our home.

  • Sheila says:

    Had an abundance of squirrels last Fall too. Now I see none. Zip. What’s up with thT?

  • Udgine says:

    I have seen lots of roadkills not only squirrels but all kinds of other animals (in unseen before numbers) in 2018. It looks like that year had probably something in the air that should not be there – some chemical due to mosquito spraying, or due to weather manipulation. Whatever they did, did not work well for the environment at all!
    There should be hopefully a better way to handle things than spraying everything with chemicals!
    Insects suffered too – butterflies and lady bugs and bees! I hope that government had somebody to think about saving a representative of each animal and insect spices so that to re-populate them after poison is gone from the environment!

  • Dee says:

    I’ve noticed dead squirrels on the roads in Springfield, MA. It’s weird because, though they’re in the road but they don’t look like they’ve been run over. They look like they’ve just died on the road. I’ve seen a few like this and wondered if they had been poisoned.

  • Bob says:

    I counted 106 from the Hampton toll booth to exit 12, heading west. 106 in 1 mile, and that was just in the left shoulder. We took a video. Squirrel Apocalypse.

    • Susan Higgins says:

      Bob, it’s crazy, isn’t it? We’ve seen things slow down here in the Lewiston area, thankfully.

  • Vest says:

    Wow, just went through most of the comments. No one is saying this is Trump’s fault? Amazing!

  • Donna says:

    I hit a squirrel yesterday. First time in more than almost forty years of driving that I’ve ever hit an animal.

  • Lorcan says:

    I’m saddened by the devastation & the cars hitting the squirrels & in some cases it is on an off ramp where a driver could slow down blow their horn & give them a chance. I don’t understand why they’re not being picked up. They’re treated like nothing more than tar & hit over & over again. No respect no care. It’s disgusting & I don’t care how many squirrels there are. People making light about are heartless & more should be done about this. I heard the eradication of mosquitoes the planes spreading poisonous sprays in the wooded areas due to West Nile virus is a major contributor. Why can’t the state buy peanuts or get contributions by local Sources to feed them on the woodlines. It is not going to hurt the vendor. I’d be happy to contribute. There’s absolutely more in certain areas & it is easy enough to figure out where food ie: the berry mix for ALL CRITTERS could be spread around so these little creatures aren’t mashed into the road meaning nothing to many. People with NO THOUGHT OR REGARD personally I’m not a fan of. I don’t care about the numbers they’ll make do. They will & have before humans stepped foot & decreased their land so they have fewer choices less predators etc. I know there’s predation. Cars SHOULD NOT BE ONE & KINDER SOULS should be making a bigger deal of this to help them out. It’s sad.

  • Maureen Walker says:

    I think that there is a bumper crop of hickory nuts as well this year. They fall in the road, get crushed, and are easy eats for the squirrels. Unfortunately for the squirrels, they pay more attention to the feast than the vehicle barreling towards them. And carrying this size of a nut to your nest is a test too. Weighs them down and makes them less able to dart and dash to avoid being hit.

  • Ramona Davis says:

    I think it must be the mushrooms since there are an abundance of mushrooms around. I wish someone could prove this by doing an autopsy on some of them, hey they performed a caesarean on Daisy, the Organgatang last week, delivering her daughter, Lilly, why not get a clear cut answer and get someone to autopsy some dead squirrels to see why so many are dying? Nantucket has NO squirrels. I have not (western Ma) noticed any dead squirrels, however tomorrow I will be driving to Boston, and I hope I don’t see what people are saying, it’s so disturbing!
    (anyone know the answer as to when the black squirrels made their first appearance in Western MA?) They’re rather “new” to us here.

  • LAura balsley says:

    Im also seeing lots of black squirrels who seem to be alot more agreesive than the grey ones. The black ones are always chasing the grey ones away! How long have the black ones been around? Are they from other countries?

  • Brian says:

    This week traveling from Manchester to Exeter on 101, counted 350 dead squirrels just on east bound side of highway.

  • Pam says:

    They come right up on my deck scratch at the window driving my dog insane lol .There are so many dead everwere .

  • Stephanie Bourassa says:

    So many along rt 2 in Leominster Fitchburg area! I thought I was crazy but now seeing this I guess it’s the squirrels that are going crazy… Sad to see though.

  • Kristen Darlington says:

    Worcester Massachusetts… they are EVERYWHERE!

  • Karl Tiedemann says:

    From Keene nh to Manchester along rte 101, all over Nashua nh.

  • Averill House Vineyard says:

    The vineyard is full of them. They ate over 100 pears in one week but have left the grapes alone. They have burried acorns all over. Oak trees will be every where!

  • Jonathan Kennedy says:

    I have noticed the same phenomenon in Franklin and Hampshire counties in western Massachusetts.

  • Tonnie Cantore says:

    I was wondering why I’ve seen so many dead a day! I’ve counted at least 15-20 a day from Hartland to White River Junction, VT. Not to mention watching them get hit, or just barely making it.

  • Winston C says:

    29 dead squirrels in 2 mile stretch of I-89 in Lebanon NH between exits 19 and 20. As I crossed the river into VT I saw only 3 dead squirrels for the next 85 miles. I’d really like to know why the NH squirrels are suicidal and the VT squirrels are not.

  • Kurt says:

    Rt 3 on the Southern NH / MA border. I counted 14 dead squirrels on exit 10. About 40 total from Merrimack to Nashua. This is between 1 exit.

  • Lynne Alcala says:

    I’ve also noticed the abundance of mushrooms this year because of the wet damp spring and summer! Well the squirrels are devouring them and I think there high as kites running all over the place like crazed little morons! I’ve hiked in the woods daily all summer and I’ve seen it first hand , they have only bothered with the nuts the last month when the mushrooms have disappeared! 🍄 I kid you not!

  • jim q says:

    Driving home to Massachusetts from Maine last weekend, I saw an estimated 350-500 dead squirrels on the roadway.

    • Susan Higgins says:

      Hi Jim q – We’re getting so many reports, still coming in! People are counting hundreds. It’s crazy. We’re hoping they settle down, for everyone’s safety.

  • Karen says:

    I was just saying yesterday that every time I look outside I see a squirrel or chipmunk running around. I’m glad it’s only folklore that an increase in activity of squirrels predicts a harsh winter. I am hoping for a mild one.

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