The Urbanization of the Eastern Gray Squirrel in the United States

Etienne Benson

Teaching the Article

Exercise 7: From Charity to Ecology and Animal Rights

Idealism about the moral impact of “missionary squirrels” faded after the first decade or two of the twentieth century, but squirrels continued to be fed and provided with nest-boxes in many urban parks. In the 1970s, however, as the environmental movement swept the United States, attitudes and laws began to change. In 1977, after a massive increase in the local squirrel population led to the decimation of flower plantings in Lafayette Square, a small park in Washington, D.C., next to the White House, the National Park Service proposed culling—that is, killing—most of the squirrels. An outcry from animal rights activists convinced the National Park Service to relocate the squirrels instead, but one thing became clear: the days of encouraging feeding were over. Signs stating “Do Not Feed the Wildlife” started going up.



  1. J. Hadidian et al., “Urban Gray Squirrel Damage and Population Management: A Case History,” Third Eastern Wildlife Damage Control Conference (Lincoln, 1987), 219–27, available at DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska-Lincoln:
    Local copy of article (PDF)