Gray Squirrel Habitat and Nest-Tree Preference

The mixed hardwoods, white oaklred oak/hickory, and chestnut oak forest types were most important for gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) on an 8100 ha study area in West Virginia. The three most abundant tree species, chestnut oak (Quercus prinus), white oak (Q. alba), and northern red oak (Q. rum-a), in these forest types provided 75 percent of the nest dens and 54 percent of the leaf nests. Among 14 tree species used for nest-den trees. American chestnut(Castanea dentata) snags and sugar maple (Acer saccharum) ,,"'Cre preferred. Hickories(Carya spp.), yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), and maples (Acer spp.) were preferred for Ieaf nests. Squirrels preferred trees 40+ em dbh tor nest dens. Intensive timber management would remove the mature and residual trees that provided most of the dens. Management for squirrels requires that a diversity of selected tree species be retained for dens and mast.

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