EDITORIAL: Squirrels must be a priority

It's often said that the world is an increasingly small place, and there's more evidence of that.

It’s often said that the world is an increasingly small place, and there’s more evidence of that.

Earlier this week, two eastern grey squirrels were found in Vernon although they originate from the other side of the continent (nine were introduced in Vancouver in 1909).

According to the Invasive Species Council of B.C., the eastern grey squirrel reduces the native squirrel population while eating bird eggs. They also dig up lawns, chew through electrical wires and nest in roofs and attics.

Under the B.C. Wildlife Act, homeowners are permitted to live trap and humanely euthanize or shoot the eastern grey squirrel. That said, the B.C. SPCA is right to call for some restraint.

“The portrayal of the grey squirrel as a nasty animal will embolden some members of the public to use inhumane methods to trap or kill the animals. For example, drowning squirrels would be an offense under provincial animal cruelty legislation,” said Sara Dubois, the SPCA’s chief scientific officer.

However, the arrival of the eastern grey squirrel is just another indication that our environment is changing.

Beyond the squirrels, there are starlings, mysis shrimp, insects that impact fruit crops and, of course, the ongoing concern that quagga and zebra mussels could show up in our lakes.

Provincial and local authorities must develop an immediate plan to keep the eastern grey squirrel population from spreading, and that will also require sufficient funding to initiate the plan.

New invaders keep moving in and we must be prepared to respond.

Vernon Morning Star

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