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City of Paso Robles working on solutions for squirrel problem at local park

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Posted at 6:15 PM, Mar 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-23 21:15:03-04

There’s a growing rodent problem at one Paso Robles park. So much so, the city was brought in to do something about it.

A while back, someone placed rodenticide around Turtle Creek Park.

The city since put up a bunch of signs letting the community know that putting poison bait around the park is illegal and it could come with a hefty fine.

Among the woodpeckers and other birds, Turtle Creek Park is home to squirrels and a whole lot of them.

“There's dozens,” said Gayleen Smoot, who lives nearby.

“There’s quite a few,” added neighbor David Sturtridge.

Smoot says she sees the rodents on her daily walk.

“My biggest concern was they're over there by the big oak trees and they're tunneling underneath the oak trees and I just hate to see any damage being done,” Smoot explained.

Sturtridge has lived near the park for two decades.

“The good and bad side of the squirrels is depending on who you talk to,” Sturtridge said.

He says while many people don’t mind them, others in the neighborhood have, unfortunately, had their yards torn up by them. Others are concerned with the potential of tripping over a burrow.

“I don't know who, but people in the area were just tired of seeing the squirrels and decided to try to do something about it themselves,” Smoot said.

The city says a while back, someone used over-the-counter poison bait all around the park.

“So we went out and found areas that they had baited,” said Nate Wyatt, City of Paso Robles Parks Maintenance Supervisor. “Bait was just lying on the ground.”

Wyatt says they put up signs warning the community that it’s illegal to do that on public property and it could come with a fine of up to $5,000.

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Signs are posted at Turtle Creek Park warning against the use of rodenticide to poison squirrels.

“The squirrels are a big problem,” Wyatt said. “They generate a lot of complaints for us and our hands are tied as far as the things we can use for them.”

A few months back though, Wyatt says they were able to hire a company to do a carbon monoxide treatment in the squirrel burrows with a cost of about $2,000 for a week. At the time, it was a success.

“Although, they've been multiplying and found their way back into the park again,” Wyatt added.

He says the treatment may be used again in the near future but the use of rodenticides is not safe with so many people and pets at the park.

The person who illegally used the rodenticide at the park was not identified.

The city reported the incident to the County Department of Agriculture.