Loyola’s urban setting may seem far from the lush wilderness many critters call home, but a wildlife population thrives right here on campus.
The rodents that roam around the Lake Shore Campus vary each year and season. Everything from large spiders and squirrels to the rarer deer and foxes have crossed paths with students, according to William Curtin, director of the environmental science program at Loyola.
Many students are all too familiar with the squirrels on campus. Curtin said that squirrels tend to dig through garbage cans in the fall, when they have a hard time finding food. The university empties on-campus trash and recycling cans each day to try to prevent this, he said.
Mike Jurewitch, director of Facilities Management Operations and Maintenance, added that squirrels can be persistent in their search for food when they’re hungry.
“The only time we had an issue was when the kids were feeding the squirrels through the windows,” Jurewitch said.
In one incident, a squirrel reportedly ripped through a window screen to get the food inside.
“As long as they know there’s food, they are going to keep pounding on the window,” Jurewitch said.
Freshman Jackie Martin, 19, had a bizarre squirrel encounter.
“We once saw, either it was a professor or a random person, walking their pet squirrel,” said Martin, an elementary education major.
Certain wild mammals on campus are less common.
Until about two years ago, a skulk of foxes made their home in rocks next to the Sullivan Center, until the mother and father developed a skin condition called mange. A wildlife rescue group trapped the foxes to take them for treatment and then released them back into the wild.
Other wild encounters occur indoors.
Some students, including 18-year-old freshman Anthony Paladino, have seen unexpected creatures roaming the halls of Loyola’s buildings. Paladino, a business major, once saw a hamster running down the fifth floor hallway of Simpson. “I’m not sure if it was ever caught or if someone is still housing it in the building,” Paladino added.
Animal and insect intrusions can be prevented, according to Jurewitch.
Many incidents with animals occur because doors were left open, food was left out or delivery packages were brought in from outside. Infestations are rare.
He said that there have been a few student complaints of spiders, ants, cockroaches and centipedes in residence halls, but that they are isolated instances.
Sometimes, there’s no explaining why bugs show up in one area. “Basically, it’s an observation type thing. There’s really no rhyme or reason,” Jurewitch said. “There may be insects on the 19th floor of Mertz but nowhere else.”
For sociology major and BVM Hall resident Bernice Huerta, spider sightings are a common occurence. The spiders come with the nice weather, she said.
“You couldn’t open your window because spiders would get in,” said Huerta, an 18-year-old freshman.
Jurewitch confirmed the mass amounts of seasonal spiders near the lakefront.
“Right along where Coffey Hall and Sullivan are, those are the buildings that seem to have the population of spiders,” he said. “But that’s an annual thing.”
“Lights attract them, so you will see them on the emergency phones, primarily along the lakefront,” Curtin said.
The university occasionally clears out all the spiders, Curtin said, but that they usually return within a day or two. They are most active in the fall.
Senior Ana Bottecchia, 22, said that while she’s occasionally had to kill a spider or centipede for her roommates, she doesn’t see bugs as an issue at Loyola.
“It could have been because we had our windows open when we had those nice days,” the international business major said.
International Exterminator, an exterminating company, comes to Loyola every week to address any issues and inspect any buildings or areas of campus, Jurewitch said. If something arises when the exterminator is not on campus, the school will have the exterminator come back. He added that Loyola’s older buildings do not have any more serious problems than any other building on campus.
Maintenance does inspections of both residence and academic halls a month before the school year begins, according to Jurewitch.
As the school year progresses, the university keeps tabs on any insect sightings. He said that the early warm weather this spring has meant his department is paying closer attention to possible critter problems.
“We just have to monitor more diligently to see if there’s an increase [of insects] every week,” he said.
Jurewitch said that the maintenance department doesn’t receive many complaints from students, but that Loyolans should submit a work order if an insect problem comes up. Students can submit a work order by going to luc.edu/webtma.
In an emergency, call Campus Safety at 44-911.
by Roberta Anglin