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Feasting Squirrels Force St. Paul's Mears Park To Scale Back Holiday Lights

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO)-- Holiday lights at a popular spot in St. Paul are looking a little dimmer this year thanks to an unwelcome guest.

Friends of Mears Park says the squirrel population has grown tremendously in the past 10 years.

"They could bite people, they could be disease-ridden. I think they would crawl up your leg if you let them," co-chair Lee Ann LaBore said.

She and Crystal Meriwether are trying to educate people against feeding the squirrels, which have become more aggressive.

Last year, the squirrels feasted on holiday lights, significantly damaging the display by the end of the season.

The theory is that the wires are coated with polylactic acid, a derivative of corn sugar, making them appealing appetizers for squirrels. As a result, the display is scaled back this year with no canopy lights.

"I can see this side of the park, so I don't see much this year of the twinkly lights. So this year to enjoy it, I just come down," Meriwether said, who also lives nearby.

"If people would just obey the ordinance, stop feeding them. They are very resourceful, they will find food and the population will decrease and we might be able to have our twinkly lights back on," LaBore said.

LaBore says she's received negative feedback on the lights and from people who enjoy having the squirrels. She says they're doing the best they can to keep everyone happy.

"We're not here to hurt the squirrels, we are here to help the community," LaBore said.

Friends of Mears Park is working with the Parks and Recreation Board as well as other agencies to try to come up with a solution.

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