Friday, September 11, 2009

Getting Squirrley

Santa Monica, California has a problem. A big problem. A big nutty problem- with squirrels.
Since 1998, they have won the gold medal 5 times for squirrel Over Population by the county which they think is more of a curse then an award. The Ground Squirrel is seen in the same light as other rodents such as gophers and rats, though much cuter they run the same risk of spreading some very unglamorous ickies such as rabies, flees, the bubonic plague (for real, the article I was reading said that).
In 2005 the city set out poison filled traps which ended up being ingested by other animals (not good) and caused a very inhumane death full of suffering and pain.
In 2006 the city tried pumping poison gas into the deep burrows where the squirrels live which ignited further public criticism.
5 months later they tried capturing the squirrels in traps and then euthanizing them with carbon dioxide. The carcasses were taken to a Cal State Bakersfield wildlife rehabilitation facility and fed to hawks returning to the wild.
Over the past 5 years city officials, looking to solve the issue in a diplomatic way finally came to the conclusion to try something new, something that could be appreciated by animal lovers and rodent haters a like.
Birth Control

The city plan to use a contraceptive called GonaCon, an immuno-contraceptive developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to help control the squirrel population. The vaccine stops ovulation in female squirrels, while halting testicular development in males. It's fairly inexpensive, has no side effects and worked with excellent results back in 2004 at Berkeley Marina park curbing the birth rate by 66%.
I really don't have a problem with squirrels, living in downtown Calgary it's basically the only wildlife I get to see. I potentially don't see them as a health risk and neither a carrier of the bubonic plague (does that even exist anymore in North America?), I suppose things might be different in warm sunny California though.

Next Week:

Source: LA Times Photograph by: Getty Images


valentine said...

not having lived anywhere that had an overpopulation of animals i find it hard to understand all the trouble they are going through to get rid of squirrels.....aren't they relatively harmless?

Kristin said...

Seems like an awfully extreme reaction to those little creatures!

Kristin said...

Seems like an awfully extreme reaction to those little creatures!

Yet said...

The squirrels probably feel the same way about the Californians. But anyway, they're so cute!! BUt i guess they could carry bad stuff. Oh well I guess...

Anonymous said...

How are they going to give this to the squirrels?

Rolley said...

hrmmm.. squirrels are sooooooo cute.. it'd be nice to have them in australia but we have similar lovely little creatures.
interesting that they've done up a contraceptive for the animals, how crazy is that. why didn't they try to balance out the natural predators, let loose a heap of pine martens to eat the squirrels! hahaha : )
ah idunno :)

Rolley said...

how awesome, I'm not as dumb as I sound! I just googled Pine Martens, and apparently they were used to reduce the squirrel population in the UK!!! YEAH!!!!! TAKE THAT BRAIN (talking to myself) I'm so smart!