A group of Esquimalt neighbours is taking a stand against what they say is an invasion of the furry, grey destructive persuasion.
Calling themselves RATS – Residents Against Troublesome Squirrels – a number of residents living in the 1200-block of Rockcrest Ave. arrived in council chambers last week seeking help with their eastern grey squirrel infestation.
Armed with a petition signed by 19 people, group spokesperson Steve Kleinman asked council to change existing bylaws to prohibit people from feeding non-domesticated rodents, such as squirrels.
The group says one neighbour has set up a large feeding station, attracting dozens of squirrels and rats. As a result, the invasive critters have gotten into homes and caused expensive damage. Residents are worried their wire-chewing habits are going to start a fire.
“I do not see a squirrel go by without a peanut in its mouth, so obviously their food has changed,” said Rockcrest Avenue resident Deborah Price, who has spent thousands of dollars trying to eradicate rats that have built nests in her roof.
Mathieu Côté brought photographic evidence of backyard damage wrought by squirrels.
“They went in the bumper of my vehicles and stored peanuts in there, scratching the paint,” Côté said. “There is a real squirrel problem in the neighbourhood, it’s not just a few people that noticed that.”
Residents have appealed to council before, but decided to band together when they never got a response.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Judith Morton, who first wrote to council in 2008. She appealed to council again this summer, but at the time Mayor Barb Desjardins said education may be more effective than trying to enforce a bylaw.
But Coun. Bruce McIldoon said the problem needs to be addressed.
“I have the same problem,” he said. “You’re not alone. We should be doing something. The resident should not be feeding them.”
In response, council asked staff to expedite a report on addressing the squirrel issue.
But that prompted a word of warning from Esquimalt resident Terry Prentice, who signed the petition.
“Don’t study it to constipation,” he said. “You don’t have much time left in your mandate. We want you to do it now.”