After dropping in at the library, squirrel needs rescue

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, September 27, 2022

SALISBURY — Rowan County Public Library Director Melissa Oleen said there have been many times she and her staff have had to capture and release birds, and they cared for a baby squirrel in their back courtyard until he was old enough to survive on his own, but they have never dealt with what happened last Friday.

Apparently a squirrel was atop the right front column at the library’s entrance, and because of a missing ceiling tile, she (or he) was able to get too close to the columns opening and fell in.

Staff immediately began trying to figure out how to get the small animal out. The squirrel could reach out a leg or arm under the small opening beneath the column designed to let water escape, but there was not quite enough space for her to get her head out.

“Laurie Lyda was the driving force behind the rescue,” said Oleen. “She even has a hashtag “savethesquirrel” in our email now.” Lyda contacted Bob Pendergrass of Animal Control for the county, who wondered if dropping a rope down inside would give the squirrel a way to climb out. The library did contact a wildlife animal damage control service and they did indeed come drop a rope down.

However, as the hours and days passed, the squirrel did not come out. Meanwhile, said Oleen, “her mate would sit on top of the column and cry, and would look right at you as if to say ‘why are you not helping?'” So everyone involved began to worry that the stuck squirrel might be a nesting mom, and if so, she would not leave the nest.

But the squirrel had numerous caretakers. As word spread of the tiny creature’s plight, residents would come by with fruit or nuts to feed the animal, who would eat but who was also clearly in distress, as she would come to the opening and cry.

At the end of the day Monday, having had no luck with the rope, County Manager Aaron Church came along with Pendergrass to re-evaluate, and it was decided that drilling a small hole would be the best option.

Scott Souther brought along an arbored saw for cutting holes, and initially cut one atop the square base of the column. But there was so much debris inside that it was not clear the squirrel could get out, so a second hole was cut in the side of the base and that would be easily accessible.

The squirrel, no doubt alarmed by the noise and vibrations, did not come out immediately, but the opening was well wide enough for her to make her escape.

“That makes my heart happy,” said Church.

Oleen went inside to share the good news with Lyda and other staff, and a Post reporter will be back to check Tuesday morning to see if lady squirrel has gone her merry way.