The first rule of Squirrel Camp is: You must catch a lot of squirrels. The second rule is: You must catch them over and over again. The third rule is: You must come to know each squirrel as intimately as you know your own family.
And you must do it in the wilds of Canada’s Yukon, while living without electricity, running water or cellphones. Oh, and there are bears.
Squirrel Camp is not for the faint of heart.
The official name is the Kluane Red Squirrel Project (pronounced “cloo-AWE-nee”). The KRSP is a collaboration among the University of Alberta, McGill University, the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Guelph and the University of Michigan.
“I think this is the longest-running study of individual squirrels anywhere,” said the University of Michigan’s Ben Dantzer, an animal behaviorist and a Squirrel Camp regular since 2006.
When I spoke to Dantzer, he was in the process of hiring for Squirrel Camp this summer. The compound is staffed year-round with anywhere from six to 20 researchers, many drawn from the ranks of undergraduates eager for their first taste of field work.
“What I’ve been saying to people is that there are three major tasks,” Dantzer said. “We have these approximately 100-acre areas. Your job is to find out where all the squirrels are, capture them, then follow their reproduction.”
Read the full article at the Washington Post.