HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Kim, who lives in the Italian Lake neighborhood, has heard scratching in walls and scurrying on rooftops. She has battled squirrels that have made their way into her home many times during the fall.
Squirrel removal expert George McEntee with Nuisance Wildlife knows Uptown Harrisburg is heavily populated with the eastern gray squirrel.
“There is no place I know of that there are more squirrels than down here,” he said.
With one look around Green Street near Italian Lake, a dozen squirrels could be spotted in eye view. Oak trees line this neighborhood, offering a great food source for the critters.
“I’ve taken 28 squirrels in 24 hours out of that man’s yard,” McEntee pointed out.
Harrisburg residents are well versed on the notorious mayflies at Harrisburg Senators baseball games. Most also know about the feral cat problem and often smell city skunks before they see them.
McEntee says many people forget about squirrels, but he considers them a part of the “big three” that also includes skunks and groundhogs.
“They will chew houses open,” he said. “They will chew through wood, shingles, and I’ve even had cases where they chew through people’s aluminum siding.”
One of his Italian Lake customers had a house fire caused by squirrels.
“They somehow got into the kitchen, chewed through the wires of the kitchen ceiling fans, and burnt the back part of the house down,” McEntee said.
Mcentee said autumn is prime time for squirrels to find winter housing by looking for any available openings in your home, especially uncapped chimneys.
“They think it’s a hollow tree and they go down, they end up in the wood stove or the fireplace or even the furnace,” he said.
McEntee is licensed through the state and federal government to handle wildlife pests. He said the best bet is to hire an experienced professional like him to deal with the problem.
“Call somebody,” he said, “because the longer it goes, the worse it gets.”
If you attempt to trap the squirrels yourself, he suggests taking them at least 5-10 miles away from your home and across a major barrier, like a highway or waterway. He said research has shown squirrels are very smart at returning to their habitat and skirting traps after being fooled once.
“The problem is when they come back, they’re not going to go in the cage because they already know what it is,” he said. “Then, you’re going to have a real hard time getting rid of them.”