Scientists Eye Birth Control for Squirrels
Population booming after a mild winter
Last year’s mild winter led to a squirrel boom that has researchers considering contraceptive-laced seeds to inhibit breeding. The warm weather resulted in a large supply of nuts, their primary food source, and now they’re everywhere; stripping bark from trees, eating crops, and chewing power lines. Researchers at South Carolina’s Clemson University, which has lost over a million dollars in maintenance costs to squirrel mischief, began by offering the squirrels black sunflower seeds coated in the cholesterol-lowering drug DiazaCon. The concoction also contains a non-toxic dye that stains the squirrels’ bellies, making it easier to identify the treated subjects. Research will likely continue for another year to determine whether the drug has any negative effects on the squirrels’ natural predators and the surrounding environment.