Steeves/Trail Mix: Help save squirrels and ducks

You can do your bit to conserve both native red squirrels and, by supporting Ducks Unlimited, creatures requiring wetland habitats.

A male mallard duck swims slowly away on a still pond.

They’re just little rodents I suppose, but I’ve become accustomed to the excited buzzing and chattering of the little native red squirrels that leap gracefully from branch to branch in our pine forests.

Their sudden bark of noise as you walk quietly through the bush can be disconcerting, but there’s no doubt about their point: it’s their forest and you’re a visitor—and not a particularly welcome one at that.

They’re extremely territorial, and not just when you enter their realm—even if it’s just another red squirrel daring to step foot in their kingdom.

Which is why when non-native, larger eastern grey squirrels come into the picture, the little red squirrel is soon gone.

Being less picky about their food sources, the greys also do much better in cities, where they will share territories as well as scavenge for food in everything from garbage cans to farms, gardens to birds’ nests.

It’s part of the reason they’ve made the list of the top 100 invasive species in the world.

Worst of all, there’re right here in Kelowna, downtown and in the Glenmore area and now 16 have been spotted across the bridge.

If we all work together and make a concerted effort, we can still eradicate these invaders before they begin destroying electric wiring, damaging eaves and shingles, getting into attics and digging up bulbs and eating commercial fruit.

No change has yet been made to legislation preventing use of a killing trap, even on your own property for these little vermin, but live trapping is legal, as is the use of a slingshot— but don’t even think about relocating them because that would just be expanding the problem.

If you spot one, I would suggest you destroy it rather than permit it to begin to destroy native birds and squirrels and more.

Also, report your sighting on the website: www.introsquirrel.ca so that their spread can be monitored.

Wildlife ecology professor Karl Larsen will be talking about squirrels at next week’s Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club meeting at 7 p.m., Tues., Oct. 9 at the Evangel Church on Gordon Drive and everyone is welcome.

Upcoming

Everyone is also invited to attend the annual Ducks Unlimited fundraising dinner and auction which will be held at the Capri Hotel Sat., Oct. 13, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

You’ll have an hour and a half before your dinner to browse all the raffle, live and silent auction items available, along with Ducks Unlimited merchandise, including limited edition art, exclusive furniture for both home and camp, yard pieces and collectibles.

Tickets are available at Kreative Kookery Cafe, 2496A Enterprise Way, weekdays between 6:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., from Lynn; or contact her by phone at 250-868-0010 or by e-mail at: thekreative@shaw.ca.

Proceeds go towards DU’s wetlands conservation efforts, which are concentrated on wetlands, a habitat there’s precious little of remaining in the Okanagan.

DU contributed to restoration of the Rotary Marsh where Brandt Creek flows into Okanagan Lake downtown.

DU also presented me with the top award in a contest for outdoors writers across Canada this year for one of my Trail Mix columns from last year. It was pretty nice to be recognized in such an elite field.

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com