Indiana University-Purdue University warns of squirrel attacks

USA Today NetworkVic Ryckaert, The Indianapolis Star
Published 12:43 p.m. ET Aug. 4, 2017 | Updated 12:49 p.m. ET Aug. 4, 2017

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Indiana has native animals and other species that are dangerous, such as rattlesnakes, coyotes, and brown recluse spiders. But cougars and black bears also have been spotted within our borders.
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INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana — When visiting Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, it may be best to cover your ankles from the hostile and possibly disease-ridden squirrels.

“Recently, there have been reports of aggressive squirrels around the IUPUI campus,” the school wrote in a Campus Life blog post on July 25. “Squirrels may look cute, and they are fun to watch scampering about, but they should not be treated as pets.”

Squirrels are known to carry diseases such as rabies, salmonella and even plague, the university said. IUPUI students and workers are advised to stop feeding the furry menaces.

“If fed by humans often enough, they will stop foraging for their own food and will rely on humans,” the university said.

When squirrels get used to being fed, they lose their fear and start approaching people for a handout. If they don’t get food, the university said, the squirrels may attack.

“Squirrels are wild animals and should be left alone to coexist in our community,” the university said. “Please leave IUPUI campus squirrels alone.”

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IUPUI’s press office did not respond to requests for more information on incidents involving aggressive or attacking squirrels.

Phil Bloom, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, said he had not heard of any specific squirrel attacks on campus or anywhere else.

Still, he said, IUPUI is providing some solid advice.

“The message that they are trying to get across to the students is totally accurate,” Bloom said. “Wildlife can get aggressive when they become accustomed to a handout.”

People food is not healthy for wild animals, Bloom said, noting that they are best served by foraging for themselves.

“Appreciate wildlife,” Bloom said, “but do so at a distance.”

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