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Larch Valley: Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel # 201

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Date: 2000.08.15
Vantage Point: Near Upper Minnestimma Lake

Caption: A ground squirrel enjoys a mid-afternoon snack in Banff National Park.

PhotoDescr: The golden-mantled ground squirrel (Spermophilus lateralis) is often mistaken for a chipmunk because of its markings. This species is usually found in colonies among the rocks, often in the company of hoary marmots or pikas. They have a tendency to solicit food from humans. Although the conventional wisdom is that the preservatives, sugars, salts and concentrated food value in human snack foods are likely to be harmful to the squirrel's survival, a study with mice and voles referenced in Ben Gadd's Handbook of the Canadian Rockies found that those species did better with human junk food. Still, in keeping with the principal of keeping wild things wild, feeding any wild animals is a Bad Thing. This particular little beggar was putting on a show of aggression in Larch Valley while two companions and I waited for the rest of our party to return from summitting Mount Temple. It would chase another squirrel away from us while making appropriate indignant squirrel sounds. Apparently it had staked us out as its territory. Rather than feed it, I took its picture.

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