Olney White Squirrel Count

Olney White Squirrel Count

October
The community of Olney, Ill., boasts a population of rare white squirrels. It is believed that the animals first appeared in the area just after the American Civil War. For many years, the city in southern Illinois has been concerned with preserving the squirrels. Ordinances prohibit cats and dogs, the squirrels' natural enemies, from running loose. Feeding stations have been set up in residential neighborhoods where the squirrel population is high. Laws give the squirrels the right-of-way on city streets, while residents are fined if they try to leave town with one of the animals.
Every year an official count is done to determine how the white squirrel population is surviving. No actual count as such is conducted. Rather, professors from nearby Central College, with the help of volunteers, try to gauge whether the number of animals is increasing or decreasing and whether any migration is taking place. The numbers have varied over the years. Most observers tend to believe that the white squirrel population has increased not only in the town of Olney, but in the surrounding countryside as well. The annual count was brought to national attention in 2002 during the 100-Year White Squirrel Celebration. In addition to the annual count, the event included a parade, a 5K race, the dedication of a statue to the white squirrel, and an official blessing of the animal.
CONTACTS:
City of Olney
300 S. Whittle Ave.
Olney, IL 62450
618-395-7302; fax: 618-395-7304
www.ci.olney.il.us/Visitors/WhiteSquirrel.htm