Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 26th, 2008
As fate would have it, I had a recent encounter of the black squirrel kind that set me to thinking about the origins of their pocketed appearances around the continent. Black squirrels in Harvard Square and at Kent State may be linked in more ways than one. Black squirrels are allegedly indigenous to the northeastern areas of North America, but human hands have helped.
On Thursday morning, April 24, 2008, while in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I observed a black squirrel on Saville Street. (Quite by chance, I was visiting with the Likis family, whose heritage is Greek, and the word “squirrel” has its origins in the Greek word for “shadow tail.”)
I was soon to discover that black squirrels are today frequently seen around Cambridge, and reports indicate they literally “abound in Harvard Square.”
When I lived in Cambridge, in the latter part of the 1970s, I didn’t notice black squirrels there. They appear to be a recent addition to the local fauna.
Intriguingly, back at the International Cryptozoology Museum, I quickly discovered a YouTube video that was recorded on December 13, 2006, at Fresh Pond Reservation, Cambridge, Massachusetts, of a black squirrel. The quality of the video is so poor, if this was a Bigfoot, everyone would call this a Blobsquatch. Perhaps it should be labeled “Blobquirrel”? Is this really a “black squirrel” or only someone’s projected sense of melanistic reality on a blacklighted rodent? Only further exploration of this region will result in more proof for Fresh Pond’s black squirrels, we must assume.
But wait…more evidence.
It appears also from near the Fresh Pond, Cambridge, area is another black squirrel video of much clearer definition, showing that, indeed, melanistic squirrels may be captured on digital cameras with some frequency if proper expedition standards are maintained.
Formerly rare in the Cambridge area, this color phrase of squirrels seems to be on the increase.
Like most black squirrels found around North American university campuses, I would speculate that the Cambridge-Fresh Pond-Harvard population was introduced.
The Annual Black Squirrel Festival at Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, began after an increase of the animals there due to the importing of Canadian blacks to that Ohio campus. In February 1961, Larry Wooddell, the superintendent of KSU’s™ 500 acres, and Biff Staples, a Davey Tree expert, ventured to Ontario, Canada, to obtain 10 cages with black squirrels. Both men worked with the Canadian Wildlife Service and American and Canadian Customs for permission to move the squirrels.
KSU’s 26th Annual Black Squirrel Festival took place on Friday, September 7, 2008, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Risman Plaza in front of the Kent Student Center. It is a yearly event, nowadays.
To celebrate the black squirrels from Victoria Park, Ontario, with a nod to their trip to Ohio, there’s even a music video filled with delightful black squirrel footage (see below) and a quiz to test your black squirrel IQ. Enjoy.