Squirrel problem in Ontario Hall

Live traps set for squirrels that nest in fine art building and destroy students’ work

Squirrels have been a nuisance to buildings like Ontario Hall for years, though officials say this year has seen a particular rise in squirrels nesting in campus buildings.
Squirrels have been a nuisance to buildings like Ontario Hall for years, though officials say this year has seen a particular rise in squirrels nesting in campus buildings.

Squirrels inside Ontario Hall have been an ongoing nuisance for staff and students who work in the building.

“They sort of seem to have had a population explosion, they’re everywhere and it’s sort of become a thing where if you go into a room there will be two or three squirrels,” Faith Webster, BFA ’12, said.

“It was sort of remarkable to see one in the past, now every single day they’re just everywhere, we have to shoo them out windows if possible.”

Webster said Ontario Hall has been plagued by squirrels since she began her program in 2008. “Ontario Hall just needs so much work maintenance-wise, and I think it’s just been pushed to the bottom of the list,” she said.

Webster said the squirrels are currently nesting in the ceiling and any effort to get them out has been useless.

Webster said the squirrels have caused damage to her personal belongings in Ontario Hall.

“Every time I come into my space everything is just thrown all over the place,” she said. “I have urine and feces on my work.”

Webster said all of Ontario Hall has been affected by the squirrels. Last week, she and a group of fourth-year Fine Arts students informed the office of Environmental Health and Safety about the problem.

Webster said live-traps and bars on windows have been provided as solutions to the problem, but these measures haven’t been effective yet because the squirrels keep finding ways to enter the building.

“It’s frustrating ... this is my academic work,” she said.

Dan Langham, director of environmental health and safety, said the department has been working with Physical Plant Services to bring a pest control company to campus.

“[They will] live-trap and remove the squirrels from the building, identify how the squirrels are entering the building, so that these locations can be blocked, and clean out and repair any locations where the squirrels have been nesting,” he told the Journal via email.

Langham said at this time of year, animals are looking for places to nest before winter. He said it’s not uncommon for his office to receive complaints of squirrels in campus buildings.

“Reports of squirrels in a building is not specific to Ontario Hall,” he said. “Typically, calls reporting squirrels in buildings relate to a single squirrel that has entered the building through an open window or door.”

Langham hasn’t received complaints about other animals in Ontario Hall. “At this point, the calls we have received about Ontario Hall have been for squirrels,” he said.” In all cases, the squirrels are live-trapped and removed.”

As the technician supervisor for the department of fine arts, Terry O’Reilly said a large part of his job this month has been communicating the squirrel problem to students.

“I spend a lot of time dealing with squirrel-related issues,” he said.

While Ontario Hall was met with high rates of squirrels in other years, O’Reilly said this year has particularly high numbers.

“Squirrels have always been an issue here,” he said. “They get in.”

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