A few weeks ago I shared the plan of Berkeley, California to exterminate the California ground squirrels living in Cesar Chavez Park due to concerns that the squirrels' burrowing might release buried toxic chemicals into the adjacent San Francisco Bay.
Happily, this plan has now been postponed while the city looks for other options. The city council voted to order the city manager to report back in two months with a new plan for dealing with the squirrels, and a response to questions that were raised by citizens and activist groups, including the local Golden Gate Audubon Society, who were upset with the impending slaughter.
While it's possible that the squirrels could still face extermination down the road, it looks like the city of Berkeley is now wanting to find another course of action toward reducing the park's ground squirrel population. The Audubon group, in a comment letter submitted to the council, has made suggestions that include modifying the vegetation in the park to reduce the squirrel population, encouraging the presence of natural predators, the use of squirrel contraceptives, and stricter enforcement of rules against feeding the squirrels.
Perhaps in the future cities might want to reconsider the wisdom of building parks on top of toxic landfills.