Squirrels get new six hectar park

Vienna city council’s environmental department has designed a whole new park near the Heeresspital in Florisdorf in an attempt to attract squirrels away from their home to allow the building of 950 council flats.

The new park which is located nearby measures six hectares. Its wide range of flowers and herbs should encourage a least half of the 170 protected animals to move by their own account. The other half would then have to be forced to move with light pressure.

It is not clear just how accurate these estimations will be, however, the works on the plot of land which is currently home to the squirrels will not begin until every animal has found its way to the new park.

Karin Büchl-Krammerstätter of the environmental department said: “There is no permission to start the building work until the squirrels have willingly moved across to the new plot of land.”

Around 18 million Euros have been invested in the council housing project so far, but it is not yet clear how much the squirrel-park will cost. Builders hope to be able to start working in 2015.

Ground squirrels (spermophilus) are a very well protected species across the whole of Europe.

In Vienna, the animals have populated very precise areas, such as Florisdorf, the Bisamberg and the Heeresspital in the Donaustadt district and the Goldberg in the south of Vienna.

According to a city council survey, 170 ground squirrels and 50 Great Hamsters of Alsace live on the plot of land to the north of the Heeresspital.

A further 500 ground squirrels are said to be living directly in the Heeresspital area and the fallow land between the hospital and the Marchfeld canal.

The population of squirrels is indeed being described by experts as considerable but not exceptional.