Bodie, Calif., is, technically, a gold-rush ghost town and a state historical park. But a more accurate way to describe it would be “squirrel heaven.” According to Pacific Standard, a thriving population of Belding’s ground squirrels has pretty much taken over the town:
They pop out from under the floors of shuttered bars and tear around meadows littered with rusting mine machinery. They stand attentively in the road, as if ready to collect entrance fees.
And, actually, the only reason the squirrels are thriving here is that there’s a town that humans more or less abandoned. The forests where these squirrels used to live are warming up, and they’ve had to more to higher altitudes. But for some mysterious reason, places where humans used to live still make good squirrel hangouts. Standard:
There are three times as many squirrels in man-made locations as in the high-elevation Sierran meadows where they still survive in nature….Do they like the irrigated turf grass? Drainage ditches? Food from tourists? Are Bodie’s crowds—as many as 200,000 visitors yearly—scaring predators away? It could be all, or none, of these.
Or maybe they’re looking for gold. What do they know that we don’t?