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.
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.
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.