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For Immediate Release: 01/13/06

Popular Santa Monica Park Squirrels Face Death Sentence

Santa Monica, CA — The Animal Protection Institute (API) has learned that a mandate issued by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services to the City of Santa Monica to reduce the California ground squirrel population in Palisades Park, Santa Monica, has led to the adoption of an imminent plan to trap and gas a large portion of the squirrel population inhabiting the park.

“API sees no basis in state law that propels the city to implement such Draconian measures,” says Camilla Fox, API’s Director of Wildlife Programs. “The City cannot justify the proposed trap-and-kill program when it has failed to enforce wildlife feeding laws for years and when it has a viable, comprehensive and proactive alternative plan before it that does not entail trapping and gassing squirrels.”

Santa Monica city officials are considering removing squirrels from the park by trapping and gassing before implementing a plan that would proactively and comprehensively manage squirrel populations in the park through contraceptive measures, education, and strict enforcement of rules against feeding wildlife.

Local conservation organizations have condemned the trap-and-kill component of the plan as unnecessary and potentially counterproductive. “The only crisis here is bureaucratic,” says Catherine Rich, Executive Officer of The Urban Wildlands Group. “The non-lethal control plan will humanely reduce the population of squirrels in a reasonable amount of time without resorting to homemade gas chambers.”

API, The Urban Wildlands Group, and other local wildlife advocates have sent letters to the mayor, city council, and County Health Department urging immediate implementation of the proactive, non-lethal plan, which would include public education about the problems associated with feeding wildlife and a comprehensive study of immunocontraception for ground squirrels.

“In keeping with the City’s image of a progressive and environmentally sustainable community, Santa Monica has an opportunity to put itself on the map with this cutting-edge non-lethal squirrel management program,” said Fox. “Wouldn’t the City prefer this over a public relations nightmare?”

API is a national nonprofit animal advocacy organization based in Sacramento, CA. API works to end animal cruelty and exploitation through legislation, litigation, and public education. For more information, visit www.api4animals.org.

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Contact:
Zibby Wilder, Animal Protection Institute, 916-447-3085 x205
Catherine Rich, The Urban Wildlands Group, 310-276-2306

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