Yesterday, I took a quick glance at one man’s disastrous approach to DIY pest remediation. Today, from Canada, here’s another instance of pest-plagued homeowners taking matters into their own hands in a strange story that mercifully doesn’t involve hair dryers and space heaters but is a lot more nuts. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

For years apparently, residents of Ottawa’s “trendy and vibrant” Westboro neighborhood have been partaking in illegal squirrel deportation in which the furry-tailed trapeze artists are trapped and unceremoniously dumped in neighboring Quebec, a province that Grist’s Jess Zimmerman has identified as the “squirrel toilet of Canada.”

It’s unclear as to what crimes against humanity Westboro’s squirrels have committed — aside, of course, from the obvious like making a mess of bird feeders, damaging trees and power lines, nesting in attics, helping themselves to vegetable gardens, looking adorable, etc. — that warrants them being hauled off unwillingly to the enchanted land of poutine and Celine Dion.

It is clear, however, that it only took one man, a Westboro resident named Daniel Sylvester, to blow the lid off this hush-hush and superstitious squirrel-ousting scheme.

As reported by the National Post, Sylvester, the only Westboro resident willing to speak openly about the town’s time-honored tradition of squirrel spiriting, confronted a neighbor who had set out a humane trap, assuming it was meant for raccoons. However, it was soon revealed that the trap was in fact meant for squirrels: “‘No, I’m trying to catch them all [the squirrels] and bring them to Quebec because they can’t cross the bridge,” the neighbor admitted to Sylvester.

The bridge in question is the Champlain Bridge, a three-lane span that crosses the Ottawa River and connects Ottawa with the city of Gatineau, Quebec. But why transport the offending rodents across a river and dump them in Quebec? And why are squirrels unable to cross bridges? The answer is folkloric: The only surefire way to get rid of a squirrel for good without killing the poor thing is to relocate it across a body of water.

Sylvester,  a practical man who isn’t having any of this nonsense, believes that instead of trapping and dumping Ontarioian squirrels in Quebec, “the easiest thing would be to fix your house.”

Naturally, the whole operation — the number of people in Westboro actually doing this is unclear although the Ottawa Citizen claims it to be a "practice many know about though no one admits doing it when the reporter calls" — is totally illegal as Ontario law does not permit regular citizens to move wildlife more than one kilometer, established to prevent the spread of animal disease.

Calling it “illegal in a whole bunch of ways, both in Ontario and Quebec,” environmental consultant Dan Brunton describes the practice as “a fruitless and possibly cruel thing to do, even if the … rodents stay where you’ve put them. If there’s habitat there for a well-established species like this to survive, members of that species will already be occupying it.”

And on the topic of occupying, the Westboro squirrels now, of course, have their very own Twitter account, and it's filled with some real gems:

So you know — we follow EVERYONE who follows us. Not to be nice, but so we know where gardens are, who has a dog, and when it's garbage day. 
Party this afternoon at that house on Harmer where Steve got the roof open. Insulation and electrical wires will be severed. BYON.
As for Sylvester, champion of displaced Canadian squirrels, I'm happy to report that he has yet to be seriously injured after driving his car into the Ottawa River due to "break failure." Watch your back good sir, watch your back ... 

Via [National Post] via [Grist]

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