Outdoors blog: Who's that having dinner in the garden?
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
Who's that chewing on my pantaloons?
A Franklin's ground squirrel nibbles on plants near a Clover Valley home. Franklin's ground squirrels are uncommon in this area, but their population is gradually expanding north. (Submitted photo by Karen Kiekow)
My friend Karen Kiekow sent along the photo above wondering exactly what kind of critter was chewing on her flowers. I checked it out with Martha Minchak, Department of Natural Resources assistant area wildlife manager in Duluth, who confirmed it was a Franklin's ground squirrel.
Kiekow lives in the Clover Valley area between Duluth and Two Harbors.
Franklin's are not common this far north in Minnesota, but with a warming climate, they're moving this way, Minchak said.
"They've been here for at least five years, if not more," Minchak said. "We've had problems with them destroying tern nests on Interstate Island (in the Duluth harbor). I've seen them along the Lakewalk and in Leif Erikson Park. They're native to Minnesota, but farther south. They live on the fringes of wooded areas."
Kiekow and her husband have an extensive garden, but so far the Franklin's hasn't devoured much, Kiekow said.
"He seems to really like Campanula punctata, or pantaloons," Kiekow said. "Fortunately, the Campanula is an aggressive spreader, so I'm not to worried about damage -- at least at this point."
Kiekow writes (and posts lots of photos to) a gardening blog called www.sillydoggarden.blogspot.com