In 1969, the North Carolina General Assembly designated the gray squirrel to be the state's official mammal. It received its scientific name in 1788, from Johann Gmelin, who called it Sciurus carolinensis, or â€œshade tail of Carolina.â€ The gray squirrel lives throughout the state and depends on hardwood forests for its food and shelter. While it was an abundant food source in the early days of the nation, its role as a food animal is largely over. Still, hunters who like to hunt alert, hard-to-fool game seek out this wily animal. Each year around three million gray squirrels are killed in the state.