NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Squirrels in New York City are on the attack, biting the hand that feeds them.
Officials are warning families to stop feeding the animals, especially in Battery Park City.
They’ll watch, stalk and then suddenly strike. The squirrels in Rockefeller Park will attack anyone and anything when it comes to stealing food.
“We were just playing over here. I walked back to the stroller and then I saw this little squirrel just shoveling our Cheerios into his mouth and I didn’t know what to do,” parkgoer Sarah Mikota said.
The squirrels have gone so wild and aggressive, humans are the ones scared of them.
“If you go after them, they’ll almost turn around and give you claws, which I don’t think is normal squirrel behavior,” parkgoer Trish Dunn told CBS2’s Christina Fan.
Last Wednesday, a squirrel scratched a parkgoer at the playground. Several others say they’ve been bitten.
Attacks by aggressive squirrels are getting so frequent lately, the Parks Department is posting warnings pleading to visitors not to feed the animals.
“I defintely don’t leave food exposed. I think some people do, when you are in the middle of watching a kid, you’re not always thinking ‘What do I do to protect from squirrels,'” said Dunn.
The City of New York receives about 70 reports of squirrel bites a year. It’s one of the reasons officials were pondering a ban on feeding all wildlife. The rule, which hasn’t been finalized, would fine feeders $50.
“I feel like if the problem keeps getting worse, it would be OK to implement something like that,” said parkgoer Abi Martel.
City officials are getting together later this week to figure out how to enforce a truce between the furry fiends and the harried humans.
The Health Department has been doing rabies surveillance since 1992, and so far has never identified a squirrel with rabies.