City attacks unprecedented rodent population - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

City attacks unprecedented rodent population

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SPOKANE, Wash. - Ground squirrels, groundhogs or gophers, oh my! Neighbors of Finch Arboretum in West Spokane say this year's rodent population is the worst they have ever seen and the City of Spokane is tackling the population with unprecedented firepower.

A spokeswoman for the City identifies the animal as ground squirrels and confirms the City is attacking a growing population of at least several hundred.

Several explosions in the Arboretum Thursday prompted calls to 911 from neighbors concerned there might be a gunman in the area; it was just the City of Spokane using a tool known as the 'Rodenator' to exterminate the rodents.

A City spokeswoman said the device pumps propane and oxygen into tunnels, then ignites, sending a shockwave through the area that kills the animals and collapses the tunnel.

The City says the rodents and their tunnels destroy tree root systems and jeopardize the plant life in John Finch Arboretum.

"It sounded like dynamite," said one neighbor who identified himself as Nathan. The father said he moved to the area three years ago so his daughter could play in the park, but the rodent population is so large this year he worries about letting her near the area.

"The thing I worry about is her getting her foot stuck in a hole and breaking an ankle or something," he said.

A KHQ news crew counted dozens of rodents in the park while taping a story Friday morning.

Neighbors debated whether the creatures were ground squirrels, groundhogs or gophers. The City identified them as ground squirrels.

The City says they plan to continue using the Rodenator through at least next week.

Several viewers called KHQ expressing concern at the death of the animals.

The City stresses they think this is the most humane way to rid the area of the animals that leave feces in the park and create a health risk.

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