ST. CLOUD — Dodger the squirrel got his name as a joke.
When Robbi Hoy, founder and president of Central Minnesota Wildlife Rehabilitation, was picking Dodger up from Companions Animal Hospital Thursday night, she thought she’d call him Lucky, but her husband wasn’t for it. Every injured animal gets named Lucky, Hoy said he told her.
They called him Dodger, because he dodged a metaphorical bullet by surviving. With darts, though, he wasn’t as lucky.
Dodger is one of several squirrels reported to have been wounded by darts and left to wander on the east side of St. Cloud. Hoy said the sightings are particularly concentrated around Killian Boulevard and 9th Street Southeast, several blocks away from Munsinger and Clemens gardens.
“I’ve been surprised … at the care that the public is showing in this case,” Hoy said.
Dodger so far has survived his wounds from the two metal darts embedded in his body. According to a Companions Animal Hospital post on Facebook yesterday, he’s one of seven squirrels reported to have been shot recently.
Hoy said she can’t confirm the true number of squirrels, because sometimes calls are anonymous and don’t contain much information. However, she guessed she’s received at least a dozen calls about these darts. She said she has seen photos of other squirrels.
“It’s just heartbreaking to see it,” Hoy said.
St. Cloud Police Assistant Chief Jeff Oxton said the Department of Natural Resources is taking the lead on an investigation into the incidents. Harland Hiemstra, regional information officer for the DNR, said the DNR is aware of the incidents and has been in communication with the St. Cloud Police Department but can’t comment on the investigation because it is still active.
Hiemstra encouraged anyone with information to call the Turn in Poachers (TIP) line at 800-652-9093.
St. Cloud Animal Control did not return a phone call as of press time Friday.
Calls from people seeing squirrels with darts in them started at the very end of January, Hoy said. She said she has also been in contact with the DNR.
Hoy is a wildlife rehabilitator, and her aim is to return the animals she helps to the wild. She said her main goal now is to get the public to help her get the animals into live traps so she can get them veterinary assistance. However, she strongly discourages the public from trying to physically handle squirrels.
In the meantime, don’t worry too much about Dodger; he’s hungry and active, Hoy said. He’s also earned his name in not one, but two escape attempts so far. He is, after all, a wild squirrel.
“He is a little rascal,” Hoy said.
To report an animal to Central Minnesota Wildlife Rehabilitation, call 320-241-5926.