NEW YORK (AFP) – As 2020 comes to a close some New York residents can add another woe to the long list this year has wrought: vicious squirrels.
People living in the Rego Park neighbourhood of Queens have reported several squirrel attacks over the past month, with one woman needing emergency attention after a bite to the hand.
One resident told local media she leaves the house with pepper spray in case of encountering an aggressive squirrel or a pack, and others voiced fear for their children.
“Next thing I know, it’s a cage match and I’m losing,” Micheline Frederick told the local ABC7 station of an instance that saw a squirrel bite or scratch her neck, necessitating a precautionary rabies shot.
The city’s Health Department advised residents in a statement “to hire a New York State licensed trapper”.
“Squirrels and many other small rodents are rarely found to be infected with rabies,” the health department said, telling residents to report any animal they spot that seems infected to local authorities.
Most squirrels in New York City are of the eastern grey variety, according to the parks department, and along with pigeons are daytime’s answer to the metropolis’ vast population of rats that roam the nightscape. The parks department warns against feeding squirrels, which can make them fear humans less.