Foster City Poisoning Squirrels

Dana Yeats of The San Mateo Daily Journal reports in the Wednesday 3/19 edition that Foster City hired a private contractor to begin poisoning ground squirrels along the levees. Foster City  is home to about 30,000 citizens. It was constructed as a moated, upscale California island bedroom comunity on massive landfill, in San Francisco Bay wetlands, in the 1960’s – about the year Rachel Carson published Silent Spring.

Animal lovers protested the city council’s decision to poison the squirrels. Reasons given were to protect the levees from burrowing, and the association of squirrels with the spread of bubonic plague in California. The city claims squirrels burrow faster than workers can fill the holes.  If poisoned squirrels should die before making it back to their burrows, the contractors will have to pick up the dead carcasses. There is no provision for private ceremonies.

Since 1925, the CDC reports there have been only “sporadic” cases of bubonic plague acquired from wild rodents, including ground squirrels, prairie dogs (Sierra marmots), and chipmunks. Fleas are the actual vector to humans and their pets, as we know. I was unable to find actual “incident” figures for California, but the CDC says the plague vaccine is no longer commercially available in the United States.

Dana Yeats of the Daily Journal also reports only a few known cases of plague in the county, ever, and none in Foster City.

We used to plant a lot of bulbs when we lived in San Mateo. Like most gardeners, we learned to protect them against Mr. Squirrel. We used chicken wire. We also had racoons. We didn’t try to bait or trap them, either. Little did we know – we actually enjoyed living in an urban environment that could be such a harmonious home to so many different birds and critters.

One source I Googled, ““, doesn’t seem to hate squirrels as much as Foster City does. The author advises:

NEVER use poison. You will end up poisoning your dog, cat, wildlife and yourself. If you poison, you will have to poison forever because the animals will adjust their breeding to fill the void of animals. It is physically impossible to poison all animals. Some will always survive. It’s illegal to poison tree squirrels. If you poison a ground squirrel, it will get thirsty and weak, venture out of its hole and your cat or dog will eat it and die. A hawk will also eat it and die. It is illegal to expose the poison to wildlife, pets, anywhere children might be or bodies of water. You must use bait boxes in these situations which is practically all the time. The rotting corpses attract flies which will lay maggots and attract other insects. Rotting corpses in the burrows and in your yard is a ripe breeding ground for deadly diseases. That’s how Anthrax is made naturally, mold spores growing on rotting bodies left in the dirt. If you walk outside you can also get the poison in your system through dermal contact with the dirt or inhalation. The poison has a long half life and you could be sick for a long time. It can kill you.


We couldn’t have said it better. Now parents have yet another reason to tell kids not to play on the levees.

747 total views, 2 views today