The City of Mobile, this week, will begin the process of relocating Bienville Square squirrels to a rural area of the county.
The move will help address overpopulation of the animals and also protect the park’s live oaks, many of which were damaged following Hurricane Sally in 2020, according to a statement from Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s office. The administration has argued previously that the squirrel population contributed to the loss of several trees uprooted during the Category 2 storm that made landfall near Gulf Shores.
City officials contacted the Fairhope-based Wildlife Solutions Inc. to perform a population assessment of the squirrels in the park. That assessment determined the average number of squirrels per acre in the park was “significantly higher” than typical squirrel populations in other city parks.
“We brought in a wildlife expert to make sure we were prioritizing the health and safety of the iconic oaks in Bienville Square and the squirrels Mobilians know and love,” Stimpson said in the statement. “By relocating some of the squirrels, we can keep the population at a level that is more sustainable for an area that size. This will ultimately make the squirrel population healthier and ensure our trees are protected.”
Based on the recommendation in Wildlife Solutions’ population assessment, the City of Mobile is beginning an effort to humanely trap approximately 25 squirrels in Bienville Square and relocate them to a suitable habitat in a rural portion of Mobile County. Visitors will soon see small traps in certain areas of Bienville Square, which will stay in place for a short period as squirrels become accustomed to them. The trapping and relocation services will also be performed by Wildlife Solutions, Inc. under the supervision of the City of Mobile’s newly established Animal Services Department.
Former Director of Mobile Botanical Gardens Bill Finch, who advised Stimpson on the trouble, confirmed to Lagniappe in a previous interview that squirrels are indeed a hindrance to the health of trees in Bienville Square, but said they didn’t play a huge role in the destruction.
Finch said squirrels and their proclivity to destroy tree foliage only accounted for about 10 percent of the issues with the trees uprooted in the park. The other 90 percent came from issues with the trees themselves or the soil beat down from years of foot traffic, he said.
The total cost of the work is estimated to be $2,715. That breaks down to $650 for the assessment and $2,065 for the relocation. This price comes in much lower than previous estimates the city has looked into. The city has previously priced similar work from the same vendor at more than $7,000, according to records requested by Lagniappe after the 2020 hurricane. City spokesman Jason Johnson confirmed the city never went through with the previous work and the scope has changed since then.
The move does not need council approval, Johnson said, as it’s a professional services contract under $15,000.
This page is available to our subscribers. Join us right now to get the latest local news from local reporters for local readers.
The best deal is found by clicking here. Click here right now to find out more. Check it out.
Already a member of the Lagniappe family? Sign in by clicking here