Reference

Darrell Sacks, 410-545-8527

Maryland State Highway Administration

Project Highlights

  • Delmarva Fox Squirrel Habitat Assessment
  • Delmarva Fox Squirrel Trapping Study
  • Delmarva Fox Squirrel Biological Assessment Report Preparation and Agency Coordination

Project Details

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CRI was initially contracted by the Maryland SHA to conduct an assessment of suitable habitat for the Delmarva Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus), a federal and state endangered species. The study area was a 16-mile segment of US 50/301/MD 404 in Queen Anne’s County, MD that was planned for improvements.

Based on the results of the assessment, CRI was also contracted to complete a trapping study for the Delmarva Fox Squirrel on two sites within Phase 2 of the planned highway project and to assist SHA and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) with the Section 7 Endangered Species Act consultation process with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Delmarva Fox Squirrel Habitat Assessment

Potentially suitable Delmarva Fox Squirrel habitat areas were initially identified on aerial photography and later field assessed. The forested habitats were determined to be suitable, unsuitable, or undetermined, requiring further investigation or confirmation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Following the initial field assessment, a final field determination was made with staff from the USFWS. Final maps were prepared that documented the status of each forest stand within the project study limits.

Delmarva Fox Squirrel Trapping Study

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CRI conducted a trapping study for the Delmarva Fox Squirrel during spring and fall 2003 within two forest stands associated with Phase 2 of the US 50/301/MD 404 improvement project. Study Area 1 contained 31 traps, while Study Area 2 contained 50 traps. Each site was trapped for five consecutive days during the two seasons. No Delmarva Fox Squirrels were captured during either season, however, a total of 115 Gray Squirrel captures occurred, primarily during the spring trapping period.

The results of the trapping effort were summarized in an interim and final report presented to SHA, FHWA, and USFWS.

Biological Assessment

Following the trapping study, SHA asked CRI to prepare a Biological Assessment Report on the Delmarva Fox Squirrel for the US 50/301/MD 404 project. We completed the Biological Assessment by summarizing the results of the Delmarva Fox Squirrel habitat assessments and trapping study, as well as an assessment of potential project related impacts to the Delmarva Fox Squirrel and its habitat.

Using project engineering mapping, CRI calculated the acreage of potential habitat impacts, and documented the amount of Delmarva Fox Squirrel habitat conservation that would be necessary to offset those impacts. CRI included a discussion of potential Delmarva Fox Squirrel conservation measures in the Biological Assessment.

Following completion of the Biological Assessment, CRI assisted SHA and FHWA in the Section 7 consultation with the USFWS. This resulted in a conditional project approval letter from the USFWS. The process is ongoing, and will likely involve further trapping studies during other phases of the project to potentially further reduce impacts to Delmarva Fox Squirrels and their habitat.