[Vision2020] Friendly squirrels

Jeff Harkins jeffh at moscow.com
Sat May 12 20:47:20 PDT 2007

Oh, might be on to something - empty spaces, lots of nuts!

At 12:07 PM 5/12/2007, you wrote:
>Hi Carl,
>Thanks for posting this fascinating info!
>All right, UI:  this is a challenge for those of you on campus!!!  WSU gets
>a 3 out of 5 possible on the Friendly Squirrel scale, but I don't see the UI
>there at all  :-(((  It's been a few <g> years since I spent much time on
>campus, but I'm sure the UI squirrels are still more friendly than those at
>Sooo, someone needs to get busy and get the UI on the Friendly Squirrel
>Saundra Lund
>Moscow, ID
>The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do
>- Edmund Burke
>***** Original material contained herein is Copyright 2006 through life plus
>70 years, Saundra Lund.  Do not copy, forward, excerpt, or reproduce outside
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>-----Original Message-----
>From: vision2020-bounces at moscow.com [mailto:vision2020-bounces at moscow.com]
>On Behalf Of Carl Westberg
>Sent: Saturday, May 12, 2007 11:49 AM
>To: vision2020 at moscow.com
>Subject: [Vision2020] Friendly squirrels
>Much ado has been made in some circles about the University of Idaho ad
>campaign with the throwaway line "friendly squirrels" as one of the reasons
>to attend school on our beautiful campus.  Well, according to this story
>from the Penn State student newspaper, maybe we're onto something:  "Site
>rates 'squirrel friendly' campuses
>By Bridget McCrory email
>Collegian Staff Writer
>As some students daydream on the lawn, the only creatures to disrupt their
>thoughts are the infamous furry squirrels that have recently distinguished
>Penn State as a "four squirrel" school.
>On a five-squirrel scale, Penn State received four out of five "squirrels,"
>which ranks high on the scale, said Jonathan Gottshall, who compiled the
>Colleges have been ranked on various factors for years, but not for
>Gottshall's "squirrel-friendly" standards.
>As stated on Gottshall's Web site (www.gottshall.com), "The quality of an
>institution of higher learning can often be determined by the size, health
>and behavior of the squirrel population on campus."
>Gottshall believes squirrel behavior is an indicator of the student body,
>and that squirrels become more adjusted to human contact when students spend
>more time on campus.
>"I think squirrels tend to be more friendly at schools that are more
>interesting and have students hanging around campus more," Gottshall said.
>A rodent enthusiast, Gottshall said he has loved furry animals since the
>release of The Secret of the NIMH in 1982. He began ranking
>"squirrel-friendly" campuses while studying for a master's degree in history
>at California State University at Fullerton. While researching at different
>college campuses, Gottshall fed squirrels and thought it would be fun to
>rank "squirrel-friendly" schools since it had never been done before.
>After observing the squirrel behavior at many campuses, Gottshall created
>his Web site. The site posts every college along with a squirrel-face rating
>for each.
>To document colleges, he relies on e-mails from students describing their
>squirrel encounters when he is unable to visit the actual school.
>A Pennsylvania field reporter gave a description of Penn State's squirrels,
>and it is quoted on Gottshall's Web site.
>"The area around the Mall contains a dense population of some of the
>friendliest, perhaps most demanding squirrels on any college campus. They
>run out in front of students . . . and on several occasions jump on
>unsuspecting students who they believe are harboring treats. I was sitting
>on a bike rack talking to some friends when one came up to me from behind
>and tapped my hand with his paw for a hand-out. Several of the bolder
>individuals will crawl through your pockets, perch on your lap or shoulders
>while eating; I've found two which let me pet them."
>The Penn State Altoona College also is listed on Gottshall's Web site. After
>he visited the campus himself, Gottshall described a specific area with a
>dense squirrel population saying, "Many squirrels will come down from the
>trees to see if you have food!"
>University Park students seem to agree with Gottshall's rating.
>"I definitely think squirrels are more people friendly. Since there are so
>many students around, they have to adjust to students more," said Heather
>Neinast (senior-psychology) said.
>Some students said squirrels appear friendly because they approach humans
>for food.
>"People feeding them gives them the incentive to come up to humans," Matt
>Debear (freshman-division of undergraduate studies) said.
>Few students had negative opinions of the outgoing squirrels at Penn State.
>"People here aren't mean to them so they're not scared to be around us,"
>Rhonda Tilgner (junior- communications) said.
>While some students see squirrels in a friendly light, campus staff
>addressed why the squirrels seem upbeat.
>Duane Diefenbach, adjunct assistant professor in the school of forest
>resources, said like most park situations with few predators, squirrels are
>not afraid of humans because they see humans as a food source instead of a
>In short, as long as students remain active on campus, Penn State's cute
>critters will maintain their friendly appeal."
>Carl Westberg Jr.
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