Southern Idaho Ground Squirrel
Southern Idaho ground squirrels are very similar to their northern cousin, the Northern Idaho ground squirrel. Both are grayish-brown and have striped tails, although Southerns have paler fur, which may be due to the fact that they dwell in sandy, light-colored soils and rangeland vegetation. They also have cheek pouches, which they use to carry nuts back to their dens. The squirrels spend a good portion of their lives underground. They emerge from hibernation early in the year, have an active feeding and breeding season above ground, and then return to their burrows in early summer.
Southern Idaho ground squirrel
Habitat: Their population is limited to the Weiser River Basin in southwest Idaho, where the landscape features rolling hills, basins, and flats at an altitude of between 2,200-3,200 feet.
Food: Southern Idaho ground squirrels eat seeds, leaves, and vegetation. They must constantly collect and eat food to store up fat to sustain them through long winters.
Facts: The ground squirrel population in southern Idaho has declined dramatically over the past 30 years. The small mammal’s habitat is threatened by the encroachment of medusahead, an invasive weed that is spreading rapidly because of increasingly frequent fires.
As the majority of squirrel sites reside on private lands, candidate conservation agreements with assurances (CCAA) have been developed with landowners to conserve the species without the need for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Landowners who participate in the agreements implement conservation practices on their lands to remove or reduce threats to the squirrels. In return, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assures the landowners that no additional regulatory restrictions will be placed on their land management practices in the future should the species be listed.