New Yorkers worry about a lot of things. The high cost of living. Violent crime. Thieves.
But now they can add a new concern: Squirrels.
A Battery Park City Authority notice posted this month reports squirrel bites in the Rockefeller Park Playground area. Half of dozen people or so reported bites or scratches over just a few days.
“We are taking steps to address this situation, including coordinating with the New York City Health Department,” the state government agency that runs the park.
It’s little surprise to the New York City Health Department.
The aggressive squirrels tend to be habituated to people — specifically people offering them food.
“Please do not feed or interact with wildlife in parks,” the department notes. “Squirrels exhibiting aggressive behavior have usually been fed by humans before – and are looking to eat again, or feel threatened.”
The city gets about 70 calls a year about squirrel bites, the department adds, and it’s usually from people who have been feeding them.
Rabies is not a concern — the chaos is more to structures and electrical services.
“Squirrels can also create electrical hazards by chewing on insulation and exposing wires,” the city’s profile of the species notes. “In 1987, a squirrel gnawed on a power line at the NASDAQ computer center, shutting down stock trading for over an hour.”
Still, the best advice: Keep your distance.
“Squirrels have sharp teeth and a strong bite,” the city government explains. “They may mistake your hand for food if you try to pet them or feed them by hand, so admire them from afar.”