Seems like not a morning goes by where I don’t open up The Worst West Australian newspaper and read of yet another scary Threat To Civilisation As We Know It.
Turns out the big crime problem reported in recent days may be the least of our worries, as suburban Perthians are today being warned to keep on the lookout for the worst plague of feral animals since camels were loosed upon our fair land by the ‘Ghans and went feral, causing all sorts of problems.
Hunt on for feral squirrels that have become a suburban nightmare
The West Australian – 2nd October 2008, 6:00 WST
Feral Indian palm squirrels are spreading across Perth and the public is being urged to report sightings so that the bushy-tailed creatures can be captured and destroyed.
It is the only feral squirrel population in Australia and the Department of Agriculture wants to stop it spreading because the squirrels damage buildings and crops and threaten native species.
The first squirrels were released in the grounds of Perth Zoo 110 years ago and conservationists have accused the department of not managing the original colony.
The department’s invasive species officer, Marion Massam, said: “We think they are a moderate to severe pest. It’s a situation that if we allow them to establish more, they do realise their potential.”
Indian palm squirrels were introduced to the zoological gardens by the WA Acclimatisation Society in 1898. They have thrived living off palm tree fruit in the zoo grounds and are branching out to palm trees in suburban gardens.
Squirrels have been reported in Daglish, Canning Vale, Wembley, Kelmscott, Midvale, Wanneroo, Forrestdale, Wilson and Pingelly.
Ms Massam said the squirrels chewed through electrical wires, ate fruit and vegetable crops and destroyed birds’ eggs. The most effective way to control them was to destroy those outside the colony.
“Do that rigorously as they turn up and you can stop other infestations from starting,” she said.
“We know that trying to remove a whole population from the mainland in an urban area would be extremely difficult. The priorities of the department are probably not there.”
Peter Robinson, of the Wilderness Society WA, said the squirrels had to be controlled to protect native species.
“Obviously they need to contain the population at the source,” he said. “If they don’t, there’s just going to be more and more escapees.”
Glenys Oogjes, from Animals Australia, said: “Lethal control has usually failed in regard to population management. “It’s not effective because populations of wild animals can reproduce at a fast rate.” Ms Oogjes said fertility control of the zoo colony would be a more ethical and effective way of controlling the squirrels. Indian palm squirrel sightings should be reported on 1800 084 881.
Marauding bands of dangerous feral squirrels in Western Australia? Woulda thunk?
UPDATE: Now that I’ve had some time to think on this, I’ve gone back and pasted the whole article in, because I smell a conspiracy here. Well, maybe that’s Vick’s I smell, since I have a godawful cold, and maybe the conspiracy is more a product of my Nyquil-addled brain, but…
Read the article again, replacing every instance of “squirrel” with “drop-bear” instead. Could we actually have a drop-bear outbreak “nightmare” on our hands, rather than a feral squirrel outbreak “nightmare”, and, given the publicity after the drop-bear incident in Victoria last year, this expose was carefully re-written by The Powers That Be so as not to unduly panic the citizens of Perth?
Or, should I just go back to bed?…
UPDATE #2: But, come to Australia anyway – it’s not that dangerous…
October 3, 2008, 3:02 pm at 3:02 pm
I think there’s something in your theory. Drop bears are dangerous, and they cause widespread panic when there’s an outbreak.
I don’t buy the squirrel thing for a second.
By the way, if you’ve got that cold I had, I wish you my complete and utter sympathy. That thing was atrocious.
October 3, 2008, 3:15 pm at 3:15 pm
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October 3, 2008, 3:17 pm at 3:17 pm
Yep. I’m seein’ through this attempt at misinformation.
October 3, 2008, 4:42 pm at 4:42 pm
There’s definite misinformation there. Heaps of it. The drop-bears are being covered up.
I demand to know why!
The safety of our citizens is at serious risk here!
October 4, 2008, 10:48 am at 10:48 am
But seriously, are these people trying to tell us that squirrels and camels are more dangerous to native fauna than foxes and cane toads?
October 4, 2008, 11:12 am at 11:12 am
I think The West likes to go for the novelty angle, Woz. Cane Toads and foxes are old news, plus all the other states have them too. Note that WA has “the ONLY feral squirrel population in Australia,” just as we have the BIGGEST number of feral camels. YAY, us!
October 4, 2008, 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm
Once again the ‘worst’ lives up to its reputation. The boys on 6PR were having a none too small giggle at this on the way to work yesterday…
October 4, 2008, 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm
.410 shotguns are hell on squirrels, and they pose almost zero danger to anything larger. So, why is there a problem?
October 4, 2008, 1:12 pm at 1:12 pm
Guns? In suburban Australia? Nanny-state don’t let us go ’round shootin’ stuff here, Angus. Might miss, and accidentally hurt a violent home-invader or somefink, LOL.
October 4, 2008, 1:19 pm at 1:19 pm
And as for “The Worst Australian,” Woz, it may be a bit quirky but for a 1-newspaper-town I reckon we’re better served by it than we would be by a Fairfax rag!
Only capital city without a daily Fairfax &/or NewsLtd paper; only state to vote Coalition in the last Federal election… Hmmmmm….
October 4, 2008, 3:23 pm at 3:23 pm
Thanks for answering the obvious question, Spot.
Government never considers unintended consequences.
October 4, 2008, 4:22 pm at 4:22 pm
They hate them coz it’s so difficult to pronounce, especially after a few and I’ve been in Korea near-on four years and that’s one of the words I skip.