Aggressive Santa Cruz squirrel named 'Emily' escapes custody

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KGO) -- A suspect, standing just a few inches tall, is making headlines. Warning signs were posted around a grapefruit tree at Maple and Cedar streets in Downtown Santa Cruz on Friday.

Soon after, Santa Cruz County animal officials were called in.

"There's an aggressive squirrel that's attacking people and we need to remove it," Todd Stosuy with the county's animal shelter radioed in.

While it may sound a bit nutty, in recent weeks, residents have reported an Eastern gray squirrel by the name of Emily had become aggressive. She was attacking and biting anyone who came close.

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Red Townsend told reporters, "I've seen passerby's. The squirrel would jump on them and assert its dominance."

On Friday, a team of firefighters, and local wildlife and animal experts worked to remove Emily and her three babies from the tree.

"They were talking about this squirrel that kept on attacking people. And I go, she's protecting her babies," vacationer, Sandy Ahman told ABC7 News.

Of course, regardless of species, there's always two sides to every story. People who knew the small mammal said she wasn't always aggressive.

"It was very friendly, very friendly," Maurice Swan said. "As odd as that may sound."

Swan takes care of the property where Emily lived. He explained that a neighbor rescued the squirrel back in August, and brought her here.

"It became very friendly. It would come to her, and she could call it almost and the squirrel would come," he said. "I take care of the inside and outside of this property, and she was back there when I was doing some yard work."

"It sounds like this squirrel was being interacted with a lot," Amy Redfeather told ABC7 News. "A lot more than it should have."

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Redfeather and her colleagues at Native Animal Rescue in Santa Cruz were supposed to care for Emily and her babies, until the group was well enough for relocation.

However, Emily bolted on arrival. Chew marks on the plastic box used in her transfer are evidence of her escape.

"There's not very much you could do about a squirrel that wants to hightail it out of here," Redfeather explained.

She said workers initially attempted to locate the squirrel. But they won't go looking for Emily, since she's back in the wild where she should be.

Emily's babies are being fostered.
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