Reporting Jamie Yuccas
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minneapolis Parks and Recreation is warning park visitors not to feed squirrels.
During the fall, squirrels are more aggressive getting food because they’re trying to fatten up for winter. Now, workers worry the squirrels are getting a little too aggressive in Loring Park.
“Somebody needs to do something about it, because it’s just gotten to the point that the whole park is overrun with squirrels,” said Lisa, who didn’t want to share her last name.
MaryLynn Pulscher, Environmental Education Director for the Park Board, said there is no law on the books about squirrels, but people should see squirrels in a different way.
“There is an ordinance about not feeding rats and if you took the fur off a squirrel, it’s a tree rat,” said Pulscher.
While first-time visitors may be surprised by the squirrels, the problem began in the early 1900s.
“Squirrels in Loring Park that are here today weren’t actually here to begin with, they were red squirrels,” says Pulscher. “When Theodore Wirth was superintendent, he decided he didn’t like them and really liked those cute gray squirrels, so he had the park police dispatch the red squirrels and he actually brought in the gray squirrels. He actually had our carpenters build them little beds in the trees and a staff person would go around and feed them.”
Soon, people started bringing their own food to the park and the squirrels caught on quickly.
So, if the warning isn’t enough. Remember, squirrels do bite the hand that feeds them.
“There were like four to begin with and then there were 20 eventually following us,” said Kelsey Gasner, a Loring Park visitor. “One actually did bite me. They’ll put their hands on you to steady your hands to grab the peanut from you.”
While the Health Department doesn’t consider squirrels a rabies risk, Minneapolis officials said that shouldn’t matter. If Minneapolis workers see you feeding the squirrels, they will ask you to stop.