RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina biologists need the public’s help in tracking down some woodland critters around the state.

For the second year in a row, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission said their biologists are asking for the public’s assistance tracking chipmunks east of I-95.

NCWRC said its been known that chipmunks could be found in the state north and west of Wake County but a photograph of a chipmunk from Wilmington in 2021 has them questioning just how far east and south they’ve travelled.

Biologists are asking anyone who sees a chipmunk east of I-95 to:

  • Take a photo
  • Note the location (GPS coordinates are preferred)
  • Email the photo to hwi@ncwildlife.org

Chipmunks are smaller than squirrels measuring only 8-10 inches long with reddish-brown fur, two white stripes bordered by black on the sides and one black stripe down the center of the back. Their most distinguishing characteristic is their large cheek pouches, which they use to store and carry food.

Although chipmunks can be found in both urban and rural habitats, they prefer open woodlands or forest edges. Those habitats provide cover and dry hillsides for digging burrowsto hide from predators and sleep during the winter.

The NCWRC said the best times to spot chipmunks is early morning and late afternoon when they are most active.

The commission said you have better look finding them if you’re looking down rather than up.

“Unlike squirrels, chipmunks spend most of their time foraging on the ground, climbing trees only occasionally,” Andrea Shipley, a mammalogist with the Commission said.

Shipley added tips they receive will be used to update their chipmunk distribution map. Those maps could then be used to assess the animal’s conservation status in the state and any need for conservation planning or research we may do in the future.

Click here to learn more about the eastern chipmunk.