Researchers predict a different outcome for the squirrels of Drew this spring. Usually, it is no surprise to the Drew community when the squirrels begin to spring back into action from their winter hibernation. Squirrels of years prior have been seen scampering around the trees or searching for food scraps but this year is looking to be much different.
Scurries (multiple groups of squirrels) are expected to be seen on campus in the coming weeks. President Schwartz stated that the squirrel population is larger than we have ever seen before and will likely continue to grow, exceeding the number of students on campus.
Students are encouraged to avoid all contact with the squirrels, as they are quite territorial and are expected to be unusually aggressive in order to defend their living area. Some students have reported near-death experiences from getting too close to the bushy-tailed beasts.
Additionally, Health Services are requiring all students to travel across campus in helmets as a safety precaution.
“We are expecting a multitude of pelted acorns flying across the walkways and we cannot risk the safety of our students,” said a nurse in Health Services. Squirrels can hurl acorns at speeds up to 50-80 mph, potentially causing concussions and, in some cases, death.
Another Drew health official advised the community to avoid eye contact with the squirrels at all times, stating “Direct eye contact with these canids is often a behavior for establishing or challenging dominance, therefore the squirrel may feel threatened by you and attack.”
While students may feel inclined to befriend the squirrels or build trust with the squirrels, the University suggests that they still maintain distance from them and avoid direct interactions. This may include taking alternative routes to classes.
In the case of a severe squirrel infestation, campus officials will take precautionary measures by canceling classes and in the case of a squirrel invasion, invoke campus evacuation.
There is no indication of how long this squirrel influx will last or its lasting impacts, but students are asked to surrender their spaces on campus to the squirrels if confronted to avoid potential damages to campus property.
If a campus community member feels threatened by a squirrel in any way they are encouraged to notify Public Safety. Should they need medical assistance following a squirrel attack, they should reach out to Health Services as quickly as possible.