The Inman Park Squirrel Census

In the spring of 2012, a statistical count was made of the Eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) for the neighborhood of Inman Park in Atlanta, GA. The Inman Park Squirrel Census (IPSC) was managed by a part-time, unpaid staff from various professional backgrounds – two writers, two designers, a web programmer/artist, a postdoctoral research associate, a Ph.D. candidate, and a wildfire fighter. Extra volunteers assisted in the counting. The findings are presented here in a series of maps, data, and other tidbits.

The Data

Data gathered during the 2012 Inman Park Squirrel Census was turned into three infographics by data visualization specialist Nat Slaughter. Individual sightings, squirrel “constellations,” composite squirrel data, and census taker comments are spotlighted. Click on each infographic for a closer look.

Why Count Squirrels?

The Inman Park Squirrel Census is an urban wildlife count of a disease-carrying (albeit charming and sometimes snarky) rodent that humans interact with on a daily basis. There has to be some value to this. Also, the Census was a community-engaged art and storytelling experiment. It was powered by an obsessive curiosity to not just consider but find the answers to life’s infinite questions.

Why Inman Park?

When it comes to studying the Eastern gray squirrel in an urban setting, Inman Park is a tantalizing choice.It is probably not the most populated squirrel haven in the city of Atlanta. But it is one of the city’s best-known urban neighborhoods, and it’s exemplary of how squirrels have adapted to human development.

Founded in 1889 two miles east of downtown, Inman Park is Atlanta’s first planned “garden suburb,” named for the project financier and cotton broker Samuel Inman. Originally a genteel, fashionable retreat of Victorian mansions set upon generous lots, the neighborhood’s idyllic appeal has met resistance through the decades from ever-changing zoning laws and the city’s prominent automobile commuter culture. In 1973, thanks in part to a community revitalization effort, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, Inman Park is known for its renovated, million-dollar Victorian mansions sharing streets with aging apartment buildings, an impressive canopy of old-growth trees, and an eccentric community spirit as evidenced in annual events like a gory Halloween parade and a wildly popular spring festival that features, among other things, another weird parade.