About the beast that nearly left Ile Alatau without firs

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During Soviet times, when it was not common “to wait for mercy of the nature” attitude to the environment was actually quite brusque. The favorite activity of the Michurinists and farmers was the total interference in the ecological processes; often, only to show man’s strength: "Earth, bow to man! And if you do not want to - we will not ask, just bend you down ourselves!"

And people bent it down. And only after they thought – what for? This happened with the squirrel, which was brought to Ile Alatau in 1952; just to give the relic spruce forests befitting look. How is the forest without squirrel? Disorder!

A squirrel – it is the same rat (the relatives!), which feeds on everything that finds, from seeds and nuts to mushrooms and birds' eggs. "Squirrel blights trees’ shoots by gnawing it and destroys the seeds and nests of beneficial birds" - says encyclopedia. And what happened here - squirrel adapted, bred and started not only destroying fir cones, but also ate their young shoots. When people realized that the invited guest is a real threat to the spruce forest’s reproduction, they began to think what to do with it.

So they decided to bring sable, the worst squirrel enemy, but it did get acclimatized. It did not worked out with traps either. Pavel Marikovskiy, popular naturalist and writer, even proposed to create a "Sunday brigade of young hunters - amateurs, burning with hunting desire", which members supposed to be "conscientious member of the Komsomol".

While people were looking into this, nature managed to fix the problem itself and livestock of squirrels went down. Apparently, not in vain, our forests managed without it for millennia. However, it is possible to see this cute rat’s relative not only in the Almaty neighborhood, but also in the metropolis, and not only in Panfilovs park, where squirrel feeding has become a traditional entertainment of humane citizens, but also on the busiest streets. Despite the changed attitude of the authorities and residents to the green decoration, the southern capital of Kazakhstan is still considered as a garden city.

But there are many places in the country, where squirrel (presented with one species - Sciurus vulgaris) lives in its natural environment, mainly in the taiga-covered mountainous terrain of Altai and Kalba ridge and ribbon forests on the right side of Irtysh. These areas are within the boundaries of the huge range of common squirrel, which stretches across the wooded Eurasia - from Europe to Kamchatka.

Interestingly, Altai squirrels take further migration and migrate to... the steppe in unfavorable years. And there, alas, they are getting killed by numerous enemies.

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