This invasive grey squirrel was spotted in Kelowna City Park last weekend. With no funding allocated to deal with the species, the population will continue to grow says a TRU researcher. (Carli Berry/Capital News)

‘Zero’ effort being made to tackle invasive grey squirrels in Kelowna parks

Invasive grey squirrels have taken over the Okanagan

They’re furry, cute and displacing their neighbours.

Roughly seven years ago, Thompson Rivers University professor Karl Larsen warned the City of Kelowna of the devastation caused to native red squirrels by the invasive Eastern grey ones.

READ MORE: Furry invaders continue to take over Okanagan

Moving up from the West Coast, the grey squirrels can be spotted in nearly every park in the Central Okanagan.

“There has been absolutely nothing done with the squirrels since (two years ago),” said Larson. “There’s no monitoring, so I can’t even tell you where they have spread to. Zero movement from the government at all levels, and I’m pretty sure that’s how it will stay. It seems like a dead duck in terms of management.”

As they aren’t territorial, grey squirrels move into areas where native red squirrels live. The red squirrels are forced out of their habitat as the larger squirrels move in.

READ MORE: There’s a new invader in town

Bruce Smith, communications officer with the Regional District of the Central Okanagan, said nothing has been done because the squirrels haven’t posed a problem.

“Nothing’s changed, there’s been nothing going from the (regional district) board and no direction from the board in this regard,” he said, adding the squirrels haven’t caused significant issues for the Central Okanagan in the parks or affected other the animals.

The regional district doesn’t have a specific threshold on when to decide to intervene, but if it starts to notice a problem, it will be addressed, Smith said.

READ MORE: Flying squirrels found to glow pink in the dark, including two from B.C.

READ MORE: Letter: Creating paranoia around squirrels

READ MORE: Squirrels are damaging some maple syrup operations


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