Richard Baird from New Jersey could be facing jail time after he allegedly shot and killed squirrels that he said were invading his home — and then hung them on a fence.
Linden Police said that Baird is charged with a single count of animal cruelty. He could face up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail, according to Det. Lt. James Sarnicki.
Baird told police he was having a problem with squirrels getting into his house through a hole. He said he tried to patch the hole with metal but the rodents kept sneaking back inside.
Det. Lt. Sarnicki said Baird decided to set a trap – slathering peanut butter on a tree in his backyard to lure the rodents. Then, he opened fire on the unsuspecting squirrels with a BB gun.
“He was taking them out on by one,” Sarnicki said. “He was frustrated that he couldn’t keep the squirrels out of his house and he took matters into his own hands.”
Sarnicki said they found as many as ten dead squirrels, including at least a half dozen carcasses that Baird hung from a backyard fence.
He said it was unclear why the homeowner decided to hang the animals.
“My theory is maybe he wanted the dead bodies to send a message to other squirrels not to trespass on his property,” Sarnicki told Fox News Radio. “That’s my theory.”
Police said they consulted with the county prosecutor to see if the squirrel massacre qualified as a felony offense. Under the law, Baird could have been charged with up to ten counts of animal cruelty — and in Linden it is against the law to shoot squirrels.
“We don’t want to see him be severely punished, yet we do want to send a message that there are other ways to handle animals that come on your property,” Sarnicki said.
Linden Mayor Richard Gerbounka told Fox News Radio that it’s an interesting and unique case.
“I’ve never experienced somebody in the city being charged for shooting squirrels,” he said. “But then again, nobody hung them up on their fence like trophies.”
Gerbounka said the message for city residents is “you shouldn’t take matters into your own hands.”
He said the city has animal control officers to take care of squirrel issues and said it’s important for residents to use the appropriate agency to solve their problems.
“They are critters and they want to live just like everyone else,” he said, referring to the squirrels.