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A day dedicated to squirrels: Why San Diegans need to coexist with them

Squirrels play a pivotal role in biodiversity, water storage, and a delicate food chain.

SAN DIEGO, California — Whether they’re climbing trees in the park or running through your backyard, squirrels may be the wild animal we come in closest contact with daily in Southern California. 

It’s all the more reason to recognize Squirrel Appreciation Day every January 21 and reflect on how to best coexist with these tiny critters.

While it might sound like a fun holiday, squirrels play a significant role in San Diego’s plant and animal life.

CBS 8 spoke with Fred Addesso of the San Diego Humane Society’s “Project Wildlife” on how squirrels contribute to rich biodiversity and what to do if you see an injured or orphaned squirrel in the wild. 

Credit: San Diego Humane Society

For starters, squirrels are widely regarded as planters of seeds and nuts. They dig holes to store seeds and nuts, which adds to our flourishing plant life around parks and in nature. “The California Ground Squirrel are tunnelers,” said Fred Addesso. “They play an important ecological role out there.”

Fred Addesso has seen many animals in and out of the San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife. Project Wildlife treats skunks, opossums, and even seagulls and falcons to treat and re-release them. They focus on sick, injured, and orphaned animals, and they welcome them from across San Diego. 

Credit: San Diego Humane Society
Credit: San Diego Humane Society

“There are over 360 native species, and we can get them all. Everything that you might find in your backyard or a park” added Addesso.

Recently, many animals have come in related to the sub-freezing temperatures and record rainfall. But come spring, a higher rate of baby animals is expected. They say if you see an orphaned baby squirrel, you can cover it with a box and bring it in. You can call them directly to bring a team member out and transport the animal to their center. “I think that informing people about our wildlife,” said Addesso. “Learn to appreciate our local wildlife, respect it and protect it.”

When you doubt what to do with an injured or orphaned squirrel, you can always visit the humane society’s website – sdhumane.org. 

You can also access their wish list as they gear up for their annual baby shower, ushering in young wild animals during the spring and fundraising to get the supplies needed to support the influx of animals.

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