No Planet of Apes, it's Planet of Squirrels in North County coast

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File photo: A tomtit bird flies past a squirrel running on a fence after a snowfall in a park in Almaty, Kazakhstan, January 12, 2016. Reuters

Officials in North County coast are facing a new but serious challenge due to the growing population of squirrels in the area. Despite continuous efforts to reduce their numbers, the population is increasing, and now, they seem to have lost the basic fear of humans.

Even though squirrels are friendly creatures, most people say that they are behaving a little too friendly which turns out to be a nuisance. Sometimes, these squirrels used to scamper right up to people, and it usually shocks many who are new to the place. There are also several instances where people got bitten by squirrels.

"I almost tripped over a few, and one tried to join me here at the picnic table. They sure are friendly creatures," said Kevin Braasch, a visitor from Chicago, San Deigo Union Tribune reports.

Authorities in the North County coast blame the habit of feeding the squirrels as the main reason behind the increasing population. As people feed them throughout the year, squirrels here have no scarcity of food.

"The main problem is they get tons of food from people. There is the culture of providing extra food for them, and that's what makes the population grow so much," said Darren Smith, an official at the San Diego region of the state Department of Parks and Recreation.

Trash dropped in the area also provides them food. There is a provision to raise tickets against people who feed squirrels, but it is rarely enforced.

In the past, authorities have poisoned squirrels to reduce their population but squirrel lovers protested it and finally, the move was capped. Sometimes, these poisoned squirrels were eaten by dogs and other carnivore animals which passed on the poison in the food chain too.

Darren Smith also said that a well-planned integrated program should be implemented to reduce the population of squirrels in the area.