Words by Jailyn Menefee
Myth: Black squirrels were brought to Kent State as a science experiment.
This whisper: False
If you live anywhere in the Kent area, then you know about the small black creatures that run the campus, known as black squirrels. On any given day, you can catch them rummaging through trash, trying to sneak in the windows of the Eastway Center or leaping from tree to tree near front campus.
Even though they can be cute and sometimes vicious, many ask where the black squirrels came from. According to kentohio.net, 55 years ago, Larry Woodell, who was the “superintendent of grounds at Kent State University at the time, and M. W. Staples, a retired executive of the Davey Tree Expert Co.,” decided to import some black squirrels.
Staples had seen black squirrels on a trip in Ontario, Canada, and the two men decided to try to bring them to Kent. After six months of negotiating with the Canadian government, the two were allowed to bring the squirrels to Kent. The Record-Courier reported that by 1964, up to 150 squirrels lived in the area. There were boxes for food and nesting set up to help the squirrels adjust.
For the most part, black squirrels reside in the Kent area, but there have been reported sightings of them throughout Northeast Ohio in places such as in Akron, Warren, Barberton, Cleveland and Canton. If you’re ever wondering how they made their way onto campus, you can thank Woodell and Staples.