Stop the killing of the California Ground Squirrels and gophers at Cesar Chavez Park, Berkeley

  • by: Bev Jo
  • target: The city of Berkeley and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board

This is the most recent update:  There is hope!  The emails have forced them to have a meeting, but they are lying because we know all the emails were not the same.

We also had no idea that they were not even considering that killing the squirrels would effectively kill the rare little Burrowing Owls, until we inundated them with emails.

We finally have hope to save these two precious beloved rodent species. If you are ever in this area, I will introduce you to some....

The Berkeley City Council will reconsider the extermination of squirrels and gophers at Cesar Chavez Park at their meeting on March 25th! (Scroll down to the second item for more information about the hearing.) http://www.insidebayarea.com/news/ci_25298598/citywise-santanas-oakland-payout-tops-200k?IADID=Search-www.insidebayarea.com-www.ins...idebayarea.com

Our petition has stalled. If anyone else has not signed, PLEASE do and share the word. It's more important than ever because there is actually a chance to save the squirrels. We need just 126 more votes.

Meeting info:

Squirrel issue swamps Berkeley

Berkeley City Council members and other city officials received 81,864 emails protesting a plan to trap and kill ground squirrels and Western Pocket Gophers at Cesar Chavez Park after a February news story on the program that ran in this paper, city officials said Friday.

The emails were all in the form of a single, identical form letter, city spokesman Matthai Chakko said.

City Councilman Kriss Worthington said most of the emails came from members and supporters of San Rafael-based In Defense of Animals, an animal rights and rescue organization.

"It's pretty amazing," Worthington said. "It's the most emails we've gotten on any single issue in the last year, or perhaps ever. I'm happy when I get 20 emails on something."

Chakko said the plan to kill the animals was aired at three public meetings before the City Council getting an information report on it last month "and to my knowledge not one person spoke during public comment at any of the meetings."

Worthington has introduced an item for the March 25 City Council meeting asking the city to revisit the topic and provide more specific information, especially the plight of burrowing owls that nest below ground at the park.

"That's one component of the issue that was never addressed," Worthington said.

Of course no one went to meetings before because who knew about it? Another factor is that they have said they do not know if the squirrels are going to puncture the cap. If they haven't yet in decades, why would that change? Considering they are killing them for no reason in adjacent parks, something else is clearly behind this.

And Chakko is lying since I know for certain that all the emails were not the same....

 

If we don't stop the city of Berkeley and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, they are planning to kill the native California Ground Squirrels and native gophers at Cesar Chavez Park. There is no reason to kill the beautiful California Ground Squirrels and gophers. People love them and they provide habitat for the Burrowing Owls who are almost gone from the park. These social animals have language with many words to describe different kinds of predators. The cousins, the Prairie Dogs, have over 100 documented words, but the Ground Squirrels are not as well documented.

This plan is all about money and is hypocritical.

Cesar Chavez is a small park situated on what was the old Berkeley dump/landfill. They didn't seal it very well and are now blaming the squirrels for toxins leaking into the bay from their digging and rain. This is hypocritical because there is very little regulation to stop businesses and households from flushing toxic products into the bay. The local parks and government agencies are regularly spraying extremely toxic herbicides and other poisons directly into the bay and on land next to the bay, as well as along creeks draining to the bay. The effect of the squirrels, if any, is negligible by comparison.

This is about some people making money, as well as being controlling. The squirrels have been there for decades. The authorities have been complaining for years about the few old, and often disabled people who come to feed the squirrels, saying it's increasing their population. This is one of the last places in the Bay Area where people feed squirrels. But the squirrels are not a problem. The off-leash dogs in leashed areas are a serious danger, to other dogs, humans, and the owls, squirrels, etc. but no one is talking about that.

This is the letter that I've sent out to publications:

PLEASE spread the word. This is personal. We are lucky that any animals live at the old dump that is this park. It's ridiculous to say the squirrels are causing toxins to leak into the bay when there is absolutely no restriction on what is flushed or washed into the bay. Most people flush toxic chemicals into the bay as do government agencies, including spraying pesticides right next to the bay and directly in the bay.

The California Ground Squirrel, like their cousins the Prairie Dogs, have language. They are amazingly intelligent animals and build interesting villages, complete with sentries to protect everyone. They have separate names they call out for specific predators. And they support many other species, including the Burrowing Owls. No squirrels, no owls. The squirrels are under siege everywhere in the Bay Area, as are the many species who rely on them for survival. Note how the reports keep repeating the word "rodent" as if it's a slur. (The gophers are slated for murder also.)

The article mentions dogs being a problem with digging holes also, but though the leashed areas are constantly violated and the Burrowing Owls are attacked by dogs as their owners look on, nothing has ever been done to stop the dogs. Instead, they want to kill a native animal already under siege. (Enforcing leash laws or banning dogs from just this one park would help solve this situation and would cost far less. The city could instead make money for citations, which again makes me think that this plan has nothing to do with water safety but is about someone getting kickbacks.)

The harassment of the people who feed the squirrels is outrageous also. They are primarily old and poor, and have named and known individual squirrels and their relatives going back generations. The usually wary squirrels know their humans and will sit on them and be petted. Both the humans and squirrels deserve to be loved and protected.

There is an ongoing destruction of our local parks while agencies and companies are making a fortune. A nearby squirrel and owl habitat on another bay landfill at the Albany Bulb is being heavily sprayed with poison and the trees are being cut down. A wildlife photographer friend who has loved that area for the hummingbirds says the hummingbirds are mostly gone now.

WHY is this being done to our parks?  Why is there no vote or input from people allowed?  How can we stop this?
 
Again, if there were real concern over toxins going into the bay, why not stop toxins flushed and washed down household and city drains and water leading to creeks into the bay, which are not regulated at all?  For instance, stop all the pesticides used by and in the bay, creeks, land. (East Bay Regional Parks and other agencies spray right next to the bay.)

I'm not sure who to contact. Perhaps the governor as well as agencies named in the article? 

City of Berkeley:  http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Home.aspx

The website for  San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board is http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/rwqcb2/

I've since learned that it might really help to directly reach Berkeley and the Water Board who is pressuring Berkeley:

Press Contact: Matthai Chakko,    Assistant to the City Manager, Public
Information Officer, (510) 981-7008.
Email
Mchakko@ cityofberkeley.info
2180 Milvia Street, Berkeley, CA 94704
CELL PHONE 510-8671622

And Lindsay, with the Water Board says those concerned can call her at 510-622-2363


 

PLEASE do not kill the native keystone species. the California Ground Squirrel, at Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley.

There is no reason to kill these beautiful animals under the pretext of preventing toxins from going into the bay, when toxins are daily released into the bay from many other sources. (Cesar Chavez is a small park situated on what was the old Berkeley dump/landfill. They didn't seal it very well and are now blaming the squirrels for toxins leaking into the bay from their digging and rain.) The squirrels are being scapegoated when they have been at the park for decades with no problem. There has also been ongoing construction with heavy machinery at Cesar Chavez Park which would also break the seal.

There is very little regulation to stop businesses and households from flushing toxic products into the bay. The local parks and government agencies are regularly spraying extremely toxic herbicides and other poisons directly into the bay and on land next to the bay, as well as along creeks draining to the bay. The effect of the squirrels, if any, is negligible by comparison.

People love the Ground Squirrels and they provide habitat for the Burrowing Owls who are almost gone from the park. These social animals have language with many words to describe different kinds of predators. The cousins, the Prairie Dogs, have over 100 documented words, but the Ground Squirrels are not as well documented.

This plan is all about money and is hypocritical. 

This is about some people making money, as well as being controlling. The squirrels have been there for decades. The authorities have been complaining for years about the few old, and often disabled people who come to feed the squirrels, saying it's increasing their population. This is one of the last places in the Bay Area where people feed squirrels. But the squirrels are not a problem. The off-leash dogs in leashed areas are a serious danger, to other dogs, humans, and the owls, squirrels, etc. but no one is talking about that.

The California Ground Squirrel, like their cousins the Prairie Dogs, have language. They are amazingly intelligent animals and build interesting villages, complete with sentries to protect everyone. They have separate names they call out for specific predators. And they support many other species, including the Burrowing Owls. No squirrels, no owls. The squirrels are under siege everywhere in the Bay Area, as are the many species who rely on them for survival. Note how the reports keep repeating the word "rodent" as if it's a slur. (The gophers are slated for murder also.)

The article mentions dogs being a problem with digging holes also, but though the leashed areas are constantly violated and the Burrowing Owls are attacked by dogs as their owners look on, nothing has ever been done to stop the dogs. Instead, they want to kill a native animal already under siege. (Enforcing leash laws or banning dogs from just this one park would help solve this situation and would cost far less. The city could instead make money for citations, which again makes me think that this plan has nothing to do with water safety but is about someone getting kickbacks.)

The harassment of the people who feed the squirrels is outrageous also. They are primarily old and poor, and have named and known individual squirrels and their relatives going back generations. The usually wary squirrels know their humans and will sit on them and be petted. Both the humans and squirrels deserve to be loved and protected.

There is an ongoing destruction of our local parks while agencies and companies are making a fortune. A nearby squirrel and owl habitat on another bay landfill at the Albany Bulb is being heavily sprayed with poison and the trees are being cut down. A wildlife photographer friend who has loved that area for the hummingbirds says the hummingbirds are mostly gone now.

WHY is this being done to our parks?  Why is there no vote or input from people allowed?  How can we stop this?


 



 
Update #22 years ago


Now they are using poison to kill the squirrels where there is no toxic landfill In another East Bay Regional Park along the bay, also named for another non-violent activist, Martin Luther King Jr Shoreline. This poison also kills raptors, dogs, and even deer.

When I questioned these squirrels being killed, the man in charge asked if I'd seen the horror film, Willard, I suppose to make me afraid of the sweet innocent squirrels. Is fear of nature their real motive?
Update #12 years ago
I've since learned that it might really help to directly reach Berkeley and the Water Board who is pressuring Berkeley:

Press Contact: Matthai Chakko, Assistant to the City Manager, Public
Information Officer, (510) 981-7008.
Email
Mchakko@ cityofberkeley.info
2180 Milvia Street, Berkeley, CA 94704
CELL PHONE 510-8671622

And Lindsay, with the Water Board says those concerned can call her at 510-622-2363


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