On Oct. 10 I observed an eastern grey squirrel (black phase) in the yard, feasting on hazelnuts in a long-established Douglas squirrel’s territory. I saw it several times over the next 10 days but it appears to have moved on.
This squirrel is larger than our native Douglas squirrel, with a beefy body that can be grey or black, and a very bushy tail. First introduced in Vancouver’s Stanley Park from eastern North America in the early 1900s, the eastern grey multiplied, and continues to expand its range throughout the Lower Mainland and beyond.
This squirrel is an invasive species that can push out the smaller, less aggressive native squirrel, and compete with native birds for nesting cavities. It can also do considerable damage to property by digging up lawns, removing bark from trees, chewing through electrical wires, and removing shingles or chewing through eaves to nest in attics, roofs and chimneys. It is on the Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) of the World Conservation Union’s list of “100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species.”
The Invasive Species Council of BC website states that “Under ‘Schedule C’ of the Wildlife Act, homeowners in B.C. are permitted to live trap and humanely euthanize or shoot the eastern grey squirrel. Trapping is most effective during winter months when food is scarce. Report sightings to the Invasive Species Council of BC at 1-888-WEEDSBC (1-888-933-3722) or visit www.bcinvasives.ca for contact info.”
Shooting is not permitted in Gibsons; elsewhere check with your local government.
If you see this large black squirrel, or any of its black or grey kin, do not feed or relocate it. Relocating is illegal, and only moves the problem to another neighbourhood. Keep compost, garbage and pet food covered, and use squirrel-proof bird feeders.
If you have access to a live trap, report the sighting, then attempt to catch the squirrel and euthanize it. Let’s make sure this squirrel does not get a toehold on the Coast.
Sheila Weaver, Gibsons