Lemmings drive woman from home
Sylvia Tologanak terrified

Arthur Milnes
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 24/98) - From the outside, you'd want to giggle and tell Cambridge Bay's Sylvia Tologanak to call either Stephen King or the Exorcist.

But, if you're like her, being driven from your home by lemmings is anything but funny.

"My toes are crinkling up here," she said Thursday. "I'm terrified of them. I get ticklish just talking about them."

Tologanak, a lifelong Kitikmeot resident in her late 20s, first noticed she had unwanted guests in her home, Aug. 7. Reaching to open a package of soup, she realized the corners had been chewed off.

Then her nightmare began.

"While I was sleeping, I could hear and feel something running around my bed." She immediately got up, went to her living room and turned on both the television and radio. "(Then) a big fat one ran to the corner near the plant."

The next day, the RWED worker consulted colleagues at her office and staff at the Cambridge Bay housing association, the owners of the home.

Traps were set and she had to leave the house. Holes in the walls and floors were patched up in hopes this would solve the problem.

It didn't.

After a week out of the house, Tologanak returned to discover that the lemmings hadn't left. Her home was still under occupation.

"They haven't been trapped yet," she said.

Tologanak believes she can only hold out another month at most before she'll have to leave her home permanently because of the lemming invasion.

In Yellowknife, RWED's Suzanne Carriere, an ecosystem management biologist, says preliminary data this year suggests 1998 could be a peak year for the lemming population.

She said while they are harmless, the Northern rodents can make quite a mess in a home. Lemmings entering homes, tents and other structures is not uncommon, Carriere added.

In the meantime, the lemming nightmare continues -- really.