Tuesday, August 16th, 2011
By Amy Kronenberger
ST. MARYS - Hunters likely will get permission to trap squirrels in St. Marys, as an over abundance of the animal has led to power outages.
"Being a tree city, we have a lot of squirrels," safety service director Tom Hitchcock said during an electric committee meeting Monday. "They jump from trees to power lines, which trip the circuit, and if they hit a transformer, that's it."
In the last year, 15 of the 34 power outages lasting 20 to 25 minutes were caused by squirrels, Hitchcock said. Fifteen of 16 outages lasting five to 10 seconds also were caused by squirrels. Most of the complaints the city gets are about power outages, he added.
Hitchcock asked the electric committee about changing the city's ordinance to allow squirrel trapping in the city during hunting season Sept. 1 to Jan. 31.
"Live trapping only," he said. "We don't want people trying to shoot squirrels in town. If they want to take them out of town and kill them, that's fine."
The committee agreed to recommend that council change the current ordinance that forbids trapping to allow it only during hunting season.
Committee member Jim Harris asked if the city should allow other animals to be trapped. Hitchcock said squirrels were the only problematic animal, so they should keep it at squirrels only.
Mayor Greg Freewalt asked about allowing hunters to trap in city parks.
"If people want to trap on their own private property that's fine, but what about in city parks?" he said.
Freewalt and Hitchcock agreed to set up a lottery system to select who could trap in the park. Hitchcock said he would check with law director Kraig Noble about adding a lottery section to the ordinance.
The revised trapping ordinance will be presented for first reading during the next council meeting at 7 p.m. Monday.
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