Ground squirrels remain despite 'Rodenator' efforts - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Ground squirrels remain despite 'Rodenator' efforts

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Crews use the 'Rodenator' to destroy a ground squirrel tunnel Crews use the 'Rodenator' to destroy a ground squirrel tunnel
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SPOKANE, Wash. - Two months after the City of Spokane used an explosive device to destroy ground squirrels and the tunnels they dug, dozens of rodents remain in the Finch Arboretum just west of Downtown.

The device, known as the 'Rodenator,' pumps propane and oxygen into tunnels, then ignites, sending a shockwave through the area that kills the animals and collapses the tunnel.

Parks Director Barry Russell says the infestation from spring has been reduced but authorities plan to evaluate the new population in the coming months.

"We have noticed that there are a lot of little ones running around," he said.

Russell says this is the time of year ground squirrels reproduce and a quick walk through the park shows dozens of rodent still digging holes.

Neighbors say the holes and burrows create trip hazards for kids in the park.

Botanists say the squirrels destroy habitats by eating the root systems of trees and plants.

The City employed an explosive device known as "the Rodenator" to destroy the animals this spring. The device detonated natural gas inside the holes. The City said it was the most humane way to kill the animals and control the growing population.

"We think the population has gone down," he said.

Russell says they don't plan to eradicate the ground squirrel population, just bring it into line with the number of other animals in the park such as coyotes.

The department plans to evaluate the number of ground squirrels in the arboretum later this summer, but Russell says the Rodenator has served its purpose this year and they do not plan to use the device this summer.

At least one neighbor called 911 during the demolition of burrows worried the explosion was gunfire in the park.

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