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What’s Going On With All The Dead Squirrels?

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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.

(Continued Below)

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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73 comments

1 Susan Higgins { 10.12.18 at 8:39 am }

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

2 Bob { 10.11.18 at 3:45 pm }

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.

3 Vest { 10.05.18 at 12:59 am }

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

4 Donna { 10.02.18 at 7:44 pm }

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

5 Lorcan { 10.02.18 at 12:46 am }

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.

6 Maureen Walker { 09.30.18 at 8:09 am }

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.

7 Ramona Davis { 09.29.18 at 1:00 pm }

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.

8 LAura balsley { 09.29.18 at 12:49 pm }

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?

9 Brian { 09.29.18 at 8:06 am }

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

10 Pam { 09.25.18 at 8:50 am }

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

11 Stephanie Bourassa { 09.24.18 at 3:39 pm }

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.

12 Kristen Darlington { 09.23.18 at 6:50 pm }

Worcester Massachusetts… they are EVERYWHERE!

13 Karl Tiedemann { 09.23.18 at 6:19 pm }

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

14 Averill House Vineyard { 09.23.18 at 3:25 pm }

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!

15 Jonathan Kennedy { 09.21.18 at 9:48 am }

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

16 Tonnie Cantore { 09.21.18 at 8:14 am }

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.

17 Winston C { 09.21.18 at 5:49 am }

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.

18 Kurt { 09.20.18 at 8:56 pm }

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.

19 Lynne Alcala { 09.20.18 at 9:10 am }

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!

20 Susan Higgins { 09.19.18 at 1:31 pm }

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.

21 jim q { 09.19.18 at 10:31 am }

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

22 Karen { 09.19.18 at 6:18 am }

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.

23 K.a.t.r. { 09.18.18 at 11:30 pm }

We have noticed a significant decrease in squirrels this summer and attribute this to an increased number of fox.

24 Sarah { 09.18.18 at 10:21 pm }

I am in the Gardner, Massachusetts area and have noticed A LOT of squirrels as roadkill on route 2.

25 Dave Norton { 09.18.18 at 7:07 pm }

It’s my understanding that the second born group of squirrels are, more or less, sacrificial.

26 Don { 09.18.18 at 10:29 am }

Living in Central Maine I too have observed and heard reported so many more live and dead squirrels than ever before in my life. To the person’s post about squirrels being high on mushrooms, that might explain why a squirrel stood and layed right in the middle of our road for hours never leaving that spot. I let my dog get working 10 ft on leash and squirrel never flinched. After seeing many cars avoid the inevitable, later that day I observed his dead body in the same spot.

27 Heidi { 09.18.18 at 7:31 am }

I live in Augusta, Maine and thought I was going crazy thinking there were way more dead squirrels in the road….but I see I am not!
Also have been seeing way more red squirrels than ever before. They are aggressive little buggers.

28 Debby O'Malley { 09.18.18 at 12:32 am }

Yes, I have been seeing an increase of dead squirrels in our streets, but with this, I have also been seeing a lot of the babies, or youngsters, that I have not seen in years. There is for sure an increase, and besides some of them being killed, I am happy to see them playing, burying their nuts, and out and about as they use to be, terrorizing our bird feeders……….

29 Colleen { 09.17.18 at 11:36 pm }

I live in the webster area, seems like every 10ft theres a dead squirrel 😥😥

30 Nonni & Papa { 09.17.18 at 10:13 pm }

Coming home from Massachusetts yesterday, we saw many squirrels on 93N. But, once we hit the tolls we began seeing many more… Between the Hookset tolls and Concord there were hundreds…

We live by Winnipesaukee and have seen an incredible increase in the chipmunk population this summer, I have lost bulbs and perennials to their burrowing.

31 Harold { 09.17.18 at 10:12 pm }

Been thinking about this all summer! Way more then IAM used to seeing, hate it 😔😥

32 Jean { 09.17.18 at 9:40 pm }

Drove from Ludlow exit to Worcester and back today on Mass Pike. You would swear someone just continuously threw them out the window of a car. There were so many. Breaks my heart, I love them so much.

33 Jen Trask { 09.17.18 at 8:37 pm }

I totally feel like I’m playing Frogger on the Maine Turnpike! Squirrel apocalypse has arrived!

34 Eunice M. { 09.17.18 at 8:28 pm }

🙂 We will not have a bad winter, wrong forecast for a El Nino year. It will be wet and warmer.

My theory on the squirrels is that they had lots of young who survived all nature threw at them only to be run over by everyone not paying attention some even making a game of it 🙁

35 Lisa Nicholson { 09.17.18 at 8:17 pm }

Never seen anything like it. Just dashing recklessly across the road every 100 yds. And ate all of my cherry tomatoes which they’ve never done before! A friend said they stripped her peach tree which she’d never seen before!

36 Christa Lakey { 09.17.18 at 8:10 pm }

I counted 156 dead squirrels in my drive from Deerfield, Ma to St. Johnsbury, Vt this weekend On I-91. I couldn’t believe it!

37 Drew z { 09.17.18 at 5:01 pm }

My girlfriend and I live in stratham nh and we have seen many suicidal squirrels. It’s bad up 101 all the way up to Manchester NH.

38 chris Jennings { 09.17.18 at 5:01 pm }

The on ramp from the bridge from MHT to Everett Turnpike south looks like a Braveheart battle was played out by marauding squirrels….hundreds of dead bodies…

39 Liz Elliott { 09.17.18 at 3:16 pm }

I question if the erractuc behavior may be a reaction to them possibly ingesting certain mushrooms, it’s been a stellar year for fungi, I’ve seen species not usually found in abundance… Just a thought.

40 Cassie { 09.17.18 at 1:28 pm }

There are so many in my area! I love near the Leominster state forest and there’s just tons of dead squirrels all over the roads. Heart breaking.

41 Meghan Hodgdon { 09.17.18 at 11:49 am }

I live in Waldo county Maine, and have seen a crazy increase in squirrels. But the one thing that has stuck in my mind is, they are acting quite bazaar almost as if they are on drugs… hummm any connection with the large Marijuana growth in the area?… maybe not but I cant help but wonder if that’s related to there lack of response time.. lol

42 Catherine Smith { 09.17.18 at 11:46 am }

I live in the Keene, NH area. Seeing lots of them here as well! And I’ve also noticed the zig-zag that they do.

43 Lionel Gaganon { 09.17.18 at 8:31 am }

We live on the MA / VT border and we have noticed it and I have dozens in my yard. My yard looks like it’s been plowed due to them burning nuts!

44 Jiminy Cricket { 09.16.18 at 11:34 pm }

We drove north on Rt 3/Everett Turnpike from MA on Saturday and started noticing dead squirrels around Nashua. By the time we got to Manchester, we thought somebody must be dumping them out of a truck. There were stretches with at least 50 bodies piled up side by side, like something from a Monty Python movie. Eventually we figured out that the Jersey barriers were trapping the poor creatures…we saw a live one running for its life in Manchester, trapped by the barrier. We saw dead bodies all the way to Waterville Valley. The worst stretches were in the south.

45 Ashley Taylor { 09.16.18 at 11:07 pm }

Counted 426 dead squirrels From Newport to Augusta on I-95 today. 278 going south and 148 going north. I had noticed the other day so my family and I kept count.

46 Danielle { 09.16.18 at 8:51 pm }

I live along a creek in southern Maine and squirrels have been swimming across multiple times a day. I’ve lived here for seven years and have never see a squirrel swim before. This fall they are going back and forth all day long, every day. What is on the other side of the creek that is not on this side or vice versa?

47 Denise { 09.16.18 at 7:13 pm }

I also noted a lot of swimming squirrels in lakes (narrows) in Maine. First time I have ever seen this and I have seen 5 this summer alone

48 Marc Bedard { 09.16.18 at 9:13 am }

On Friday 9/14 I counted 63 dead squirrels in a couple of mile of I 95, Kittery to York exit

49 Darrellbryer { 09.15.18 at 8:44 pm }

Natural speed bumps….. I have removed a few from in front of our house and have also seen dozens on the road. Even people on Waze are tagging them in the app for others to avoid

50 Traci Dean { 09.15.18 at 8:20 pm }

On Labor Day we traveled from the Augusta exit to the Old Orchard Beach exit (exit 2 I think) on I-95 South and we counted 149 dead squirrels and those were just the recognizable ones. There were many other unrecognizable things in the road we didn’t count but could they have been squirrels.

51 Trudy { 09.15.18 at 3:59 pm }

State needs to clean up the dead bodies ASAP

52 Meg { 09.15.18 at 11:33 am }

If you see a squirrel crossing the road in front of you, if you honk your horn they usually retreat at the noise, one less dead squirrel hopefully.

53 Rakesh { 09.15.18 at 9:31 am }

20-30 dead squirrels on Fedrick Everett Turnpike southbound near Nashua betwen exit 7E and 6

54 Lisa Lowe { 09.15.18 at 9:01 am }

lots of squirrel roadkill in Berlin,Ma

55 Ron S. { 09.14.18 at 1:14 pm }

I drive tractor trailer in sbh. Exit 11 heading south (pike) I counted 55 dead squirrels at entrance of tunnel. I’ve seen hundreds of new squirrel bodies daily.

56 Miss Molly { 09.14.18 at 9:44 am }

I’m not a robot

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57 Steve { 09.14.18 at 7:17 am }

In Southern Maine the squirrels have been pretty much everywhere…one day driving through Saco I saw three dead squirrel within a couple feet of each other. I feel bad for them…

58 Chris { 09.13.18 at 7:09 pm }

There have been an insane amount of squirrels here in southern nh. The highways are littered with them and you cant go anywhere without having them dart in front of your car. I grew up in nh and dont remember ever seeing it this bad….

59 Susan Higgins { 09.14.18 at 8:42 am }

Hi LauraLee, it’s incredible, isn’t it? And they’re very fat, too. We guess though that a Have-a-heart trap may not do any good as the population has really exploded. You’d have to remove feeders and other food sources. But if you and your neighbor are near an oak tree, there’s little you can do other than sweep up the acorns. Keep fruit bowls or ripening fruit/veg away from windows, as they’re after those as well.

60 LauraLee { 09.13.18 at 6:00 pm }

I’ve not seen any dead ones… however… I have many, many, more than normal…huge squirrels climbing window screens, jumping from roof onto feeder poles… destroying my flower garden, etc!! I wondered what was happening! My neighbor has a ‘have a heart’ trap and is trying to relocate as they were trying to get in his windows too.

61 hawk peters { 09.13.18 at 11:01 am }

saw so many on rt16 and 125 sometimes in clusters of 10 or more

62 Andrea P { 09.12.18 at 9:04 pm }

In VT, I’ve seen an incredible amount of dead gray squirrels. I travel often from Windsor county to Chittenden County and the roadkill numbers are unbelievable.

63 Tori Dyke { 09.12.18 at 4:29 pm }

I live in Lincoln County – have removed 3 chipmunks from my house. They’re literally walking in the kitchen door.

64 Holly Benoit { 09.12.18 at 2:09 pm }

I was traveling from Concord NH to Northwood NH on Interstate 393 to Rte 4 and I saw dead squirrels about 10 feet apart all the way to Epsom NH. Didn’t think we had that many!!!

65 Michelle { 09.12.18 at 3:57 am }

Here in southern Maine the squirrel population is out if control!! I’ve never seen so many, alive and dead! I’m wondering if this glut of roadkill will bring an increase in the crow and/or other roadkill diners population?

66 tammy { 09.11.18 at 6:39 pm }

Here in south central NE, the squirrels are shaking the acorns out of the trees. One would think hail was falling. They are burying them all over my front yard. Never seen this happen. My dog is a bid shedder. When she starts to shed, we know cold weather is soon to come.

67 Chester { 09.11.18 at 6:11 pm }

There are a few dead ones on the roads here in the Capital District in NY. The squirrels are out and about . . . nothing unusual. But there is one very noisy chipmunk near the house that is chirping all day! Driving the cats and myself crazy!

68 Lizabeth Toby { 09.11.18 at 5:37 pm }

Was in NH Sept 1 and 2, dead squirrels EVERYWHERE. On the way home to Northern Maine we counted 205 on a 100 mile stretch of I-95. North of Bangor, hardly any.

69 Jim from Nashua { 09.11.18 at 4:58 pm }

I honk my horn at the squirrel as I approach so he makes a decision rather than panic and backtrack into the traffic. Seems to work, but on the highway it might not be advisable. The Everett Turnpike in Manchester – Bedford – Merrimack is unbelievable! The Jersey barriers keep them from running across successfully.

70 Carol K { 09.11.18 at 4:30 pm }

We were day tripping last week between Londonderry and Dover NH on the back roads and saw the roadway littered with dead squirrel, especially between Lee and Madbury. You need buzzards to clean up all that road kill.

71 kathy manion { 09.11.18 at 2:45 pm }

yes here in sc i have noticed a lot of squirrels in the road within the last week or two

72 Keith Monson { 09.11.18 at 2:44 pm }

I was walking by where I used to live (lots of trees) and I saw about four (or two really fast ones) which was unusual. Where I live now there are no trees and my kitty really misses playing with the squirrels. She’d chase them, they’d chase her, she even brought me a baby that she found and she didn’t hurt it or anything. I put it back in the tree. #Kansas

73 heather russell { 09.11.18 at 2:43 pm }

I live in Lincoln County, work in Knox County,Maine and there are dead squirrels everywhere 🙁

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