Emma Jane Vignola, naturalist with the Capital Regional District, shows off a (mounted) eastern grey squirrel. Vignola will lead the Going Squirrelly Guided Walk at Francis/King Regional Park in Saanich this Sunday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Emma Jane Vignola, naturalist with the Capital Regional District, shows off a (mounted) eastern grey squirrel. Vignola will lead the Going Squirrelly Guided Walk at Francis/King Regional Park in Saanich this Sunday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Squirrels star of guided walk in Saanich park

Going Squirrelly Guided Walk happening Sunday in Francis/King Regional Park

When Emma Jane Vignola looks at squirrels, she sees more than just the cuddly critters, whose antics generate massive viewership numbers on social media platforms.

For Vignola, squirrels are animals of mystery with familiar but surprising traits.

“You think you know everything about a squirrel, but there are actually some pretty interesting facts,” said Vignola, who is a park naturalist with the Capital Regional District (CRD). “They are not as simple as they seem.”

RELATED: Oak Bay man saves baby squirrel in distress

RELATED: Squirrel squatter trashes Oak Bay home while couple on vacation

Here is one such fact that Vignola teases. “Squirrels have similar nutritional needs that we do, but they don’t have access to a grocery store,” she said. “So they need to get everything from the forest. Squirrels actually need large predators in the forest like cougars, to meet all their dietary needs. And not necessarily [in the form of] food.”

While readers are encouraged to draw their own conclusions, those who want to learn more about this and other facts can join Vignola on Sunday between 10 a.m. and 11:30 for a Going Squirrelly Guided Walk at Francis/King Regional Park in Saanich.

“This is a really special place, because it is a really great example of coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem,” she said. “So we wanted to teach people about squirrels because it is a real great way for them to connect to the park, to the forest, and learn more about the animals that live there.”

The area is actually home to two species of squirrels: the Eastern Grey Squirrel, a transplant from eastern Canada, and the local Red Squirrel.

Not only do they differ in size, with the Grey Squirrel larger, but also in behaviour, she said.

“The Grey Squirrels are a lot less shy,” said Vignola. “The Red Squirrels are a lot more cautious.”

The eastern variety, in other words, is more comfortable around humans, a characteristic common among animals that humans have introduced into unfamiliar ecosystems.

Squirrels, contrary to popular perception, also do not hibernate. “We will probably see squirrels on the program — hopefully,” she said.

Should participants spot one, they will see an athletic, even charismatic animal, that is an integral part of the local ecosystem. Anyone interested in the walk should bring sturdy shoes and dress for the weather, while leaving their pets at home.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Grandmothers to Grandmothers is a campaign that connects Canadian grandmothers with grandmothers in Africa who are caring for children orphaned by AIDS. Here, they are in Kakuto, Uganda in 2018. (Kibuuka Mukisa Oscar photo)
Greater Victoria and African grandmothers celebrate solidarity with virtual concert

Grandmothers to Grandmothers supports women in Africa caring for children orphaned by AIDS

Naloxone is used to treat opioid overdoses. (Black Press Media files)
Island Health issues overdose advisory for Greater Victoria

The advisory directs bystanders to an overdose to call 911 and administer naloxone

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Driver who crashed into Uptown Walmart likely suffering mental health crisis, police say

Man in his early 20s drove through a parkade wall, no serious injuries reported

Supporter Gordy Dodd cheers on HeroWork Victoria executive director Trevor Botkin, who will be in a lift for 36 hours beside Dodd’s Furniture and Mattress on April 16 and 17 to raise funds for the organization’s next project, a makeover of the Salvation Army’s Addiction and Rehabilitation Centre on Johnson Street. (Courtesy HeroWork Victoria)
HeroWork Victoria tackles makeover of Salvation Army rehab centre

Executive director to spend 36 hours living in a lift as fundraiser

West Shore RCMP is seeking information about a collision involving a car and a bicycle on Six Mile Road, near the Island Highway, at 11:30 a.m. on April 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore RCMP seeks information about collision between bike, car

Collision occured on Six Mile Road on April 7 and a bystander got the blue car’s plate number

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. sees 873 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, decline continues

Hospitalizations up to 377, two more deaths for 1,515 total

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park sends one to hospital

Police say man confronted another over airsoft shooting, then was attacked with a weapon

John Albert Buchanan was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2017 death of Richard Sitar. Pictured here, Buchanan walking to the court in Nanaimo last year. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Six years including time served for Nanaimo man in bludgeoning death

John Albert Buchanan sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for death of Richard Sitar

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 2, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. NDP ministers defend ‘air tax,’ latest COVID-19 business aid

Empty home tax doesn’t apply to businesses, but space above them

Most Read