Aggressive squirrels are sinking their rodentures into park-goers.
There’s been a concerning number of squirrel bites and scratches in Lower Manhattan’s Rockefeller Park Playground area, the Battery Park City Authority says.
The agency is warning park-goers to keep their distance from the pesky rodents.
“We urge New Yorkers and visitors not to feed squirrels as they are perfectly capable of feeding themselves — and they can bite!,” says Richard Simon, director of the NYC Parks Wildlife Unit.
The BPCA has posted signs throughout the park warning people not to feed the squirrels. But parents say the problem is beyond their control at this point.
“We don’t bring food around in the stroller because I’ve seen them go in people’s strollers and know exactly where to go,” one parent told ABC7 Monday.
The brazen squirrels tend to fit a profile: “Squirrels exhibiting aggressive behavior have usually been fed by humans before — and are looking to eat again,” BPCA writes.
Roughly 30 New Yorkers a year are bitten by squirrels, the New York City Health Department tells the Wall Street Journal. The bites generally happen to people who’ve been feeding the squirrels. Fortunately, squirrels don’t carry rabies.
In fact, eastern gray squirrels — the main species in NYC — pose a bigger threat to electrical lines than they do to the human immune system. “In 1987, a squirrel gnawed on a power line at the NASDAQ computer center, shutting down stock trading for over an hour,” reads a city website profiling eastern grays.
The city has sought to outlaw feeding squirrels, making it a fine-able offense.
“Squirrels can find their own food, which is healthier for them than human food,” Simon says. “Feeding a squirrel can make them less fearful of humans, which can also hurt them in the long run.”
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