City using bait boxes in parks to curb squirrel population

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Some University City residents are upset over the city's lethal methods to curb the squirrel population at Nobel Athletic Area park. Many see the park as an escape from the neighborhood's concrete jungle. 

"One of the joys of being here is to watch the wildlife in the morning-- the rabbits and the squirrels especially," resident, Tracy Benson said. 

But that began to change once Benson started seeing more green boxes on the ground, similar to water irrigation units.

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"There is a hole back here, and in this hole is where the bait is placed. So the idea is the animal eats the bait, comes out, and essentially dies," Benson said. 

The more of these boxes the animal lover saw, the fewer squirrels she ran into on her walks.

10News contacted the City of San Diego to get answers. A spokesman explained that the green apparatus is a "bait box." It helps manage what they call an "overabundant squirrel population."

The City's Parks and Recreation Department began using them a few years ago to stop the squirrels from damaging their athletic facilities, landscaping, and eroding the hillside. While Benson understands the need, she believes the method is too cruel.

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"Poison has no place in a public community like this," Benson said. 

The facility caters to young children and includes an off-leash dog park, both could potentially be affected by the poison nearby. Instead of bait boxes, Benson suggests educating the public by putting up more signs around the park.

"[The public] are going to have an understanding that if they feed the animals, they actually do more harm than good. And that nature will always balance itself. It's human interaction that creates an imbalance," Benson said.

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Not always. The city adds, if they do not control the squirrel population in this way, the effects go up the food chain. There will be more coyotes and snakes, animals that would be dangerous to park users. Still, Benson says there must be another way.

"I think that is upsetting, and I don't think that is the measure that should have been taken to properly control the population of squirrels," Benson added.

The city says they periodically place the bait boxes in their parks when needed. 

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