Invasive grey squirrels spreading across the Okanagan

Invasion of the squirrels

They may look cute and fuzzy – but make no mistake, grey squirrels are nasty customers.

And they have moved into the Okanagan.

Vernon-based wildlife expert Pete Wise says calls are increasing about the invasive mammals.

“They are an introduced species,” Wise said, adding they are known as the Eastern Grey Squirrel, but can also be red or black, depending on the stage they are in.

“There were six that were originally given to the Stanley Park Zoo from the (Toronto) Metropolitan Zoo in 1906, and from those six, all of the problems have originated.”

Wise says the invasive squirrels are almost twice the size of indigenous squirrel species.

“They are killing native species, the native squirrels and chipmunks and small mammals. They get into nests and kill the birds and eat the eggs.”

They can also cause “huge” crop damage.

“Vancouver Island has a terrible problem with them in their hazel nut plantations,” said Wise, adding grey squirrels have also been causing problems at nut farms in West Kelowna.

Wise says they will also get into vehicles and chew wires as well as make a mess if they get into the attics of homes.

Wise says people often catch the squirrels and then relocate them, but by doing so they are spreading the problem to new areas.

If anyone catches a grey squirrel, Wise encourages them to contact him.

“I get lots of calls. I have three or four on the go right now,” he said, adding the number of calls is steadily increasing.

Wise Wildlife Control Services can be reached at 250-503-7151.

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