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Curious About The Chipmunk Population

By David Wade, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – They’re cute, and tiny and a pain in the neck for a lot of people. Karen from Walpole is curious about the chipmunk population this year. She went to our Declare Your Curiosity web page to ask: “Are there more of them than other years? They sure are wreaking havoc at my house!”

“The chipmunks got into the engine compartment of my car,” says Karen Pulling. The critters weren’t there to do repairs, they were there to chew up wires. “I had it fixed and it was over $500,” says Pulling. It’s been a constant charge of chipmunks for Karen. They dig, she fills. “A couple of days later it’s all dug out again,” she says. And they like her garden, too, digging out her flower bulbs.

“He doesn’t eat them, but he just digs them up,” she laments. She’s tried to keep them away with pepper and cloves. Her mechanic suggested she hang dryer sheets under her car’s hood. “I don’t think I’ve found that any of them work that great,” she says. What she really wants to know is, “Did their population triple or something?”

WBZ-TV’s David Wade reports

“This has been a great year for chipmunks,” says Elissa Landre, who runs Mass Audubon’s Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in Natick. She says, blame it on the oak trees. Last fall they dropped a huge number of acorns. “Chipmunks ran around and collected them, filled their cheek pouches, and then filled their underground pantries,” she says.

A thick blanket of snow provided good insulation while the chipmunks spent the winter underground. In the spring, the fat, happy chipmunks had plenty of babies. “The adults emerged in good shape and the babies were good and healthy because their parents were well nourished,” says Landre.

That’s why there are so many chipmunks in our backyards this summer. It also means predators that like to eat chipmunks, like foxes, coyotes and hawks, are also thriving. “It’s an interesting phenomenon, It’s cyclical. After November you typically won’t see a chipmunk. And you’ll suddenly say where are they? That’s when they go underground and you’ll see them again in April,” says Landre. And the cycle begins again.

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