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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 21, 2019   |   Ithaca, NY

News

Students report flying squirrel infestation in Terraces

The Office of Facilities is working to address student reports that flying squirrels have been scurrying around in the Terraces Residence Halls at Ithaca College.

The reports of flying squirrels were in Terraces 6 and 9. Facilities addressed the problem by sealing off where the squirrels had entered, said Ernie McClatchie, executive director in the Department of Facilities, Grounds and Transportation. Facilities first received reports of flying squirrels in Terrace 9 in mid-November and from Terrace 6 in early December. McClatchie said this is the first time he is aware that squirrels have accessed the dorms and were reported to Facilities.

McClatchie said it is possible that the squirrels entered the dorms due to an early onset of cold weather and, after working with a pest control contractor, Facilities believes it has plugged up all the holes the squirrels used to enter. Facilities created a point through which the squirrels can leave the building and has left traps in the dorms to catch any stragglers. McClatchie said Facilities probably dealt with around five to six cases of flying squirrels.

One of the students who filed a report to Facilities, sophomore Zachary Ashcraft, said the issue first arose Nov. 26 when he heard a rustling noise coming from under his bed. Two weeks later, he heard the same sound again, and Ashcraft and a friend used a granola bar to lure out and catch a glimpse of what he thought was a mouse.

Ashcraft’s friend called the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management, who told Ashcraft that there had been issues of flying squirrels in Terrace 6. Ashcraft was told by Public Safety to put in a work order with Facilities. Facilities put a trap in Ashcraft’s room three days later, and the trap failed to catch the squirrel, Ashcraft said. Facilities came back a day later to fill in the hole the squirrels were entering in from, and Ashcraft has not had issues with flying squirrels since.

Sophomore Julia Driscoll also said she experienced issues with flying squirrels; though, for her, the response from Facilities was not as fast. Driscoll said that the Sunday after Thanksgiving break, Nov. 25, she heard what sounded like a mouse, which was caught the day after. That same day, however, while she was at her desk, a flying squirrel jumped onto it and ran off.

From Nov. 26 to Nov. 29, Driscoll and her mother attempted to contact Facilities and Public Safety to have them come and address the issue. Driscoll said Facilities came to fix the problem Dec. 4 by using traps and plugging up the holes. Driscoll said she does not think her problem was taken as seriously by Facilities as she felt it should have been.

“I felt like the fact that there was an animal in my room, and I wasn’t comfortable living there, was not seen as a serious problem,” Driscoll said. “It took them until this Tuesday to fix everything, and even still the squirrels and mice are still in the building.”

McClatchie said he is not sure why it took Facilities so long to address Driscoll’s flying squirrel problem, but guessed it may have been due to the pest control services Facilities contracted.

“There may have been a misunderstanding along the lines that our outside pest control is here on Mondays and Thursdays,” McClatchie said. “There’s a possibility that that person said I’ll be back on Thursday. But we have our own staff that have their licenses to do it, so we do it internally, plus we have an outside contractor to help us. I can’t believe we would have missed something for three or four days and not done it.

Sophomore Preston Atkins, who lives in Terrace 9, said the squirrels first started appearing Nov. 29. Then he and his roommate saw the squirrels again the next day. On Dec. 1, Atkins said, some of his friends tried to catch it, and that was when they found out it was a flying squirrel.

“One was on top of a dresser, and when they turned around and looked at it, it jumped off and glided down to the ground,” Atkins said. “When we tried to catch one, it got out in the hallway, and so we called our [resident assistant], and they called maintenance, and they came pretty quickly. By that time, we’d already caught it again. We thought we got rid of it, but it came back the next morning.”

Atkins’ roommate saw four squirrels in his room at one time Dec. 3, and Atkins said he was told by maintenance that the squirrels got in through the area surrounding the pipes in the walls.

At first, maintenance tried filling that area with spray foam, Atkins said, which the squirrels chewed through the next day, and then maintenance came back and put steel wool covered in pepper spray into the hole. Atkins said that since then, he has not seen any squirrels, and maintenance has come several times to see if the flying squirrels have returned. Atkins said he is glad to finally be rid of the squirrels after having dealt with them for a week.

“I’m happy that it’s over,” Atkins said. “I had a big paper due 8 a.m. on Friday, and thankfully Thursday night was, like, the first we really didn’t have to worry about the squirrels at all. I was able to finish that paper, and I was happy it was dealt with.”

Sam Haut can be reached at shaut@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @SamZHaut