Aggressive squirrels reported at Shadow Bay Park in Orange County

Park officials warn guests not to feed wildlife

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Aggressive squirrels at Shadow Bay Park in Orange County have prompted officials to install signs reminding visitors not to feed the wildlife.

Park officials said they received a complaint about aggressive squirrels in the area on April 20. "Do Not Feed Wildlife" signs were ordered immediately and installed on Wednesday, a news release said.

Within the past several weeks, Orange County officials said there have been five incidents involving aggressive squirrels at Shadow Bay Park.

Park officials have posted signs at the park, warning people to not feed the squirrels and to avoid contact.

A squirrel was seen in a trap Thursday evening when News 6 was at the park.

No information was provided on why the squirrels are being classified as aggressive or if they have injured anyone. A spokeswoman said they have not had reports of aggressive squirrels at any other Orange County parks.

"Visitor safety is extremely important to Orange County Parks & Recreation and we would like to remind all residents not to feed wildlife. It makes wild animals lose their natural fear of people and they can become a nuisance – or even a safety risk. This is why these particular squirrels have in fact become aggressive," a news release said.

Florida Fish and Wildlife officials said that the squirrels are instinctively afraid of humans, but since people are feeding them, they've become less afraid. This also can make them aggressive.

"These squirrels at the park, they are running up to the kids and some of them are chasing the kids because the kids go to them, they think that they have food," parent Tosha Elliott said.

Elliot said that she brings her daughter to the park every day and said parents need to do their part by warning their children to stay away from the squirrels.

"I just tell her, 'Hey listen, the squirrels maybe have rabies or they might have something contagious that we don't want to get, so we don't touch animals that we don't know,'" Elliott said.

Orange County said of the five incidents, one resulted in an official report.

FWC asks all park visitors to not feed the squirrels as it attempts to relocate ones that have become aggressive toward people.

Traps have been placed at the park. So far, two squirrels have been trapped and relocated.

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