Monday, March 05, 2007

Santa Monica Squirrels to Get Free Birth Control

Christian parents say promoting abstinence would be more effective. From LA Times

For squirrels gone wild, city plans a turnoff
Santa Monica has a new plan to stop a breeding frenzy among the rodents in Palisades Park.
By Francisco Vara-Orta, Times Staff Writer
March 5, 2007

Afraid that a population explosion among squirrels in a city park could pose a public health risk, Santa Monica officials are ready to try a proven method of dealing with the problem: birth control shots.

Plans call for squirrels in Palisades Park to be injected with an immuno-contraceptive vaccine to stunt sexual development. Breeding season runs from February to April, but the inoculations will take place this summer when the squirrels are most active outdoors and easier to trap.

Santa Monica would be only the second city in the state, besides Berkeley, to try the immunization program.

"It's a cutting-edge approach," said Joe McGrath, the city's parks chief. "Pest control in general isn't usually very exciting or even controversial. That hasn't been the case with the squirrels."

California ground squirrels, like rats and gophers, are rodents. Experts warn that they are aggressive and may carry rabies or host fleas that can spread disease, such as bubonic plague. The larger the squirrel population, the greater the chance for infestation, which in turn could expose humans and predatory animals to disease, said Gail Van Gordon, an entomologist with the Los Angeles County Health Services Department.


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