CHICAGO (CBS) — A squirrel in Bartlett has become public enemy number one after being deemed dangerous and a nuisance. The squirrel could cost a homeowner there tens of thousands of dollars.
“I like wildlife,” said Debbie Szenda, who has a giant squirrel tattoo on her arm to prove it.
She was overjoyed when she heard babies crying inside a squirrel box in her yard.
“I enjoy watching the squirrels,” she said. “From what I understand, squirrels have three to four babies. They keep their babies for at least 16 weeks.”
Back in April the Village of Bartlett sent Szenda a second and final warning notice and ultimately a letter with tickets issued outlining a public nuisance, dangerous acts and feeding and housing squirrels.
“I got another ticket, but this time it was a different code they cited me with” she said.
She got one ticket on May 15 for continuing to cause a public nuisance and then similar tickets on June 4 and June 19.
“I didn’t want to cause issues, so I took down squirrel boxes,” she said.
But she left one of her boxes because of the babies.
“By state law I can’t remove that,” she said.
According to the state, she could face a fine or jail time.
“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” Szenda said.
But if she keeps it up, she faces up to a $750 fine per day. This started in April, so the money could really add up — to $88,500.
“That’s half of what my house cost me,” she said.
Szenda has hired an attorney and must fight the possible fines at a hearing later this month.
“I really feel like I’m being harassed,” she said. “I have no control over the wildlife. I just enjoy watching it.”
The village maintains it is simply trying to protect other Bartlett residents who complained about damage caused by squirrels. They blame Szenda for attracting those squirrels.
The village acknowledged Szenda would be in violation of state law if she removed the box now, but it won’t drop its case. It said the matter will be handled at a hearing next week.