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Resident upset over City of Airdrie’s pest control method

By: Stacie Snow

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 06:00 am

An Airdrie resident is upset about the City's process of pumping carbon monoxide gas into Richardson ground squirrel's hole and burying them.
An Airdrie resident is upset about the City's process of pumping carbon monoxide gas into Richardson ground squirrel's hole and burying them.
Submitted/For Rocky View Publishing

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At least one Airdrie resident is outraged after learning the City of Airdrie Parks department gasses Richardson ground squirrels with carbon monoxide and fills in their holes every summer.

Two-year Airdrie resident Shirley Morton said she was incensed when she looked out the window of Tim Horton’s on Main Street and Yankee Valley Boulevard on June 2 to see crews pumping the gas into the squirrel’s dens.

“I was so upset, livid even. I don’t see what the squirrels are doing so wrong,” she said. “This is such a mean way to deal with this. Those little guys have been here way before us and they are not hurting anyone.”

Jeff Hughes, integrated pest management technician for the City of Airdrie, confirmed that crews are gassing the rodents and have done so as a means of pest control for the past three springs/summers.

“This is a humane way of controlling the Richardson ground squirrel population as with carbon monoxide there is no danger of secondary poisoning (accidentally poisoning animals such as dogs),” he said.

“There is no danger to dogs or children. The carbon monoxide is pumped directly into the holes and it just dissipates.”

He said the rodents create a tripping hazard on local sports fields and parks and starting in March when the animals come out of hibernation, crews gas the squirrels in Fletcher Park, the cemetery, off-leash parks and the Sierra Springs area.

Kevin Brinson, team leaders of the parks department, said he could not release the cost of the program as it changes ever year. The department does not keep a count of the amount of squirrels in Airdrie.

Brinson said the gassing is done as part of the council-approved Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program.

“We have a zero tolerance for the sports fields as someone can get hurt and break a limb,” he said.

“As for the green spaces, dogs can be running and hurt themselves if they step in a gopher hole.”

“We don’t wipe them out completely,” he added. “We are just trying to control the population.”

Morton says the cost of the program can’t be measured in dollars.

“I don’t see the sense in this,” she said.

“We can’t just go around destroying living things that we think are in our way. For two years, I’ve enjoyed watching the antics of these little guys. They are cute and this is just wrong.”

Hughes said natural predators such as badgers and hawks also help to control the population of Richardson ground squirrels.


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