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This little critter resembles a chipmunk but does not have the distinctive chipmunk’s stripes on its face. For about ten minutes, I had a delightful respite from landscape photography on a recent visit to Crater Lake National Park, as this small squirrel ran around on some rocks and was eventually joined by a friend or mate. The second squirrel was not nearly as inquisitive of my presence. Then, the squirrels ran off just as quickly as they had appeared. This was, unfortunately, to be my only encounter with any wild animal other than birds during my 3-day stay at Crater Lake. They range from about 9 to, at times, almost 12 inches in length.
At Crater Lake National Park, these small squirrels inhabited burrows under rocks and trees. These animals are found in the mountainous areas of North America.
As Monday morning, September 29, 2014, moved further along, I continued on my drive around the East Rim of Crater Lake National Park, Oregon. I had seen only some birds – ravens, and a few jays, along with some smaller species: sparrows; wrens; and finches – since my arrival the day before. Having reviewed a birding checklist prior to my trip, I knew that summer was the height of the birding season at Crater Lake. At that point, even most all birds that I had seen were either too distant to photograph or in flat light. The very few that I had seen, which had possibilities to photograph, would have necessitated my stopping in the middle of the road and getting out with camera in hand. That was not an option on the narrow Rim Drives around the lake. I had seen no other wildlife until I stopped at an overlook in the southeast quadrant of the lake. While setting up my tripod for some landscape shots, a golden-mantled ground squirrel (Callospermophilus lateralis), jumped up on a rock ledge right next to me. It continued to run up toward me, as if asking for food. No doubt, passersby had given it nuts and other sustenance over time, which is forbidden in our National Parks and just does not do the animals any good. In fact, when fed repeatedly by humans, the theory is that animals lose their ability to seek food in the wild. Aside from that, processed and even natural food fed by people to animals may be far less nutritious and, in many cases, is harmful to animals. When getting close enough to feed any animal, the risks increase of transmitting a disease to animals, or getting a disease from an animal, or being bitten. That, alone, may require the need for a series of rabies shots, as the animal’s brain may not conveniently present itself for necropsy. And, lastly, when animals come to rely on humans for some food, they increase their risks of being hit by cars in their search for nutrition. Sadly, too many folks do not stop to think of the consequences of feeding wild animals.