Commissioners table squirrel relocation

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullock

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullock

By Emily Crowe

Relocating prairie dogs is nothing new in Clovis, but relocating squirrels is a new idea being pitched to the city.

City Commissioner Randy Crowder presented the idea at Monday’s Parks, Recreation and Beautification Committee meeting.

Crowder said he spoke with a couple friends who were interested in seeing if it would be feasible to move squirrels from the Colonial Park area to Hillcrest Park in order to enjoy seeing the furry critters at the city park.

Although the committee tabled the issue until its May meeting to provide more time for citizen input, City Manager Joe Thomas said he spoke with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish after he heard of the idea.

The supervisor at the Roswell office said the department would have to issue a permit and oversee the relocation of squirrels in Clovis.

According to Thomas, however, the department would not issue a permit until late summer or early fall since the squirrels are currently in the middle of their birthing season.

“It is doable,” Thomas said. “It’ll just have to be monitored by Game and Fish.”

Committee Chairman and City Commissioner Fidel Madrid said one of his main concerns is having an abundant source of food for the squirrels at Hillcrest Park.

City Commissioner Juan Garza also noted that his constituents expressed concerns about dogs at Hillcrest Park chasing or harming the squirrels.

“I don’t know that these folks are asking that we do it this year,” Crowder said. “They’re just asking to consider it as a future consideration at the park.”

If there isn’t a food source available, Crowder said, he would not recommend moving the squirrels until there is one.

Six pairs of squirrels were introduced at Hillcrest Park in the 1980s by the then-zoo director, but they disappeared after about a year, Thomas said.