with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Arctic Ground Squirrel in Grasses

Arctic Ground Squirrell, Alaska, photograph by Brent VanFossen

You can’t travel up to Alaska and through Canada without running into the ubiquitous Arctic Ground Squirrel.

Brent found this cooperative ground squirrel near our campsite in Alaska, a brown fuzzy creature against the lovely green grasses in the background, dotted with buttercups.

Photographing these animals is like “shooting fish in a barrel,” as my father used to say. Those that survive close to the campgrounds have become accustomed to people and allow you to get fairly close to photograph them.

Unfortunately, many people treat them like pets and feed them, which encourages them to be a little too comfortable with humans, increases their population as they don’t have to venture far into predator territory to get their food, and encourages bad behavior such as scrambling through garbage, digging into tents, cars, and RVs to chew up wiring and pipes, biting, and just being a big nuisance.

When Brent was working with this fuzzy guy, there were high overcast clouds allowing a soft gentle light on his subject, allowing the lovely texture and detail of the squirrel’s fur to be clearly seen. While he could have gotten closer, he worked with his 500mm lens to stay back. This also helped to compress the background and foreground to better frame the squirrel in the field of green.

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