The eastern fox squirrel, native to the eastern and midwestern United States, was recently documented in the Sonoran Desert in the vicinity of Yuma, Arizona, constituting the first state record for this species. We surveyed the people of Yuma to determine when and how the squirrels arrived. The squirrels were first observed in the 1960s, but may have been resident for a longer period. Since the 1960s, squirrels have spread throughout the city limits and extended south ~15 km into Somerton, Arizona. How the squirrels arrived is not clear, but must be the result of an introduction, as no nearby populations exist. The persistence of eastern fox squirrels in this unique habitat is due to synanthropic relationships.
We would like to thank Melissa Merrick for the distribution map. Lin Piest, Arizona Department of Fish and Game, provided enthusiasm and insight in the early stages by making us aware of fox squirrels in the area. We would also like to thank all the participants of the online survey, whose input was invaluable to filling in some of the missing pieces to the timeframe of introduction, and Blake Herzog, reporter for the Yuma Sun newspaper, for working with us on the article that ran in the newspaper to solicit information from the public.
Becker, E.M. and M.H. Kimball. 1947. Walnut growers turn squirrel catchers. Diamond Walnut News 29: 4–6.Search in Google Scholar
Claytor, S.C., A.E. Muchlinski and E. Torres. 2015. Multiple introductions of the eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) in California. Mitochondrial DNA 26: 583–592.10.3109/19401736.2013.878903Search in Google Scholar PubMed
Flyger, V. and J.E. Gates. 1982. Fox and gray squirrels. In: (J.A. Chapman and G.A. Feldhamer, eds.) Wild mammals of North America. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. pp. 209–229.Search in Google Scholar
Frey, J.K., J. Iglesias and K. Herman. 2013. Eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger): new threat to pecan orchards in far west Texas. West. N. Am. Nat. 73: 382–385.10.3398/064.073.0311Search in Google Scholar
NOAA. 2015. NOWData – “NOAA Online Weather Data”. National Weather Service. Accessed 18 May 2015-05.Search in Google Scholar
Phillips, S.J. and P.W. Comus (eds.). 1999. A natural history of the Sonoran Desert. Univ of California Press, Berkeley. pp. 628.Search in Google Scholar
©2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston