Wire-biting squirrels force Minnesota park to scale back Christmas lights

A Minnesota park has scaled back Christmas decorations this year, and members of the nonprofit that maintains the park said fat squirrels are to blame.

Lee Ann LaBore, co-chair of the Friends of Mears Park, said the annual holiday display in the St. Paul park had to be cut back this year when vendors refused to hang strings of lights that had been damaged by squirrels in previous years.

“Our vendor reuses the lights, and they can’t afford to put those lights up only to have the squirrels destroy them again,” LaBore told the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. “I don’t blame them.”

LaBore said the wires are covered with polylactic acid, a corn syrup derivative that the squirrels apparently find irresistible.

The Friends of Mears Park said in a Facebook post that signs have been posted in all four corners of the park informing visitors of city ordinances banning the feeding of wildlife, but that has not discouraged some visitors from giving food to the animals.

“I have watched people with food in their hand, and they try to get the squirrels to jump up and take the food,” LaBore said. “They try and lead them around the park. One guy was trying to get one to jump on him. It’s a little disturbing.”

This year’s holiday display in Mears Park features projected images of snowflakes and lights placed at the base of the birch trees.

LaBore, whose condo overlooks the park, said some neighbors have complained about the changes to this year’s display.

“People look down from their condos or apartments and they want to see the twinkly lights. Well, we can’t have twinkly lights. It was probably this or nothing. It’s gorgeous when you walk through it, but it’s not as pretty from up above,” she said.