Spot the Squirrels in Olney, Illinois
Known as the home of the white squirrel, Olney boasts a large population of white albino Eastern gray squirrels, which have all-white fur and bright blue eyes. Legend has it that in 1902, two local farmers each caught a white squirrel on their own and made a love match between the two – an event that is commemorated on a plaque in City Park.
The town has truly embraced its furry friends. Throughout the city, you’ll see images of white squirrels on everything from murals to street signs to statues, and it’s even a part of the city’s logo. Olney has even gone so far as to pass laws to keep them safe – a necessity, as its population has decreased by about 80% in the last 70 years or so. As a result, white squirrels automatically have the right of way on public streets, and there’s a $750 fine for anyone who runs one over.
If you’re curious and want to catch a sighting of these white squirrels, your best bet is to participate in the annual Squirrel Count, which takes place during the last three Saturdays in October. Volunteers come together to scour the parks and other wooded areas, with the goal of getting an accurate count of the current white squirrel population. Visit ci.olney.il.us/visitors/white_squirrels for more information.