Beetles caused toxic residue at Richmond park where squirrels died, RCMP say

RCMP say a previously unknown substance found at the base of trees at a park in Richmond, B.C., is related to a beetle infestation.

A resident reported finding a number of sick and dead squirrels in South Arm Community Park on June 9, Mounties said.

Fire crews identified the substance as 1-octanethiol, a compound used in the production of other chemicals that can be dangerous if it’s not handled correctly.

But RCMP said followup testing after a second incident earlier this week showed the substance appears to be residue from an infestation of red turpentine beetles, which attack mature pine trees.

They add that no sign of the toxin was found in other samples.

The RCMP say the sick and dead squirrels found in the park are believed to have ingested poison, but there’s no sign it was intentional.

Police say they appreciate the public’s response to the incident and ask anyone who witnesses something suspicious to report it to authorities.

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