October 7, 2007

Squirrel Nation

Because we did turkey yesterday, I have the luxury of time to read the weekend New York Times this morning. Which means I have the nerve to give you a six page link about squirrels.

Actually, all I could think of was my Dad. My father hated squirrels with a passion usually reserved for post-surgery pain or in-laws. He used to set (illegal) traps in the yard, because the squirrels dug up his garden. An old farmer, he brought the laws of rural Saskatchewan to somewhat less rural Burlington, and applied at will. I have the fattest squirrels in the world in my yard, because I feed the little devils he used to dispatch. Well, it's not entirely me. My neighbour Jan feeds them too - but he puts up special feeders. I just fling out old bread.

Gray squirrels didn't exist in England until some numbskull rich folks decided to bring them over from America as caged pets. Until that time, the UK was dominated by red squirrels, which are cuter and more cuddly. Beatrix Potter made a big to-do about them with Squirrel Nutkin, and you know how those Brits are with things they belove. All would have been fine, except gray squirrels drive out red squirrels. And so agencies have been formed to get rid of the gray squirrels. I had lingering echoes of the word 'genocide' dinging through my brain as I read this piece, and I'm sure the parallels are pretty clear, but I'm too lazy to go there today.

The link is mainly about these two guys who sound like they're out of a Monty Python sketch. Read it. It's a hoot. They go around killing gray squirrels (sorry, Jan), by bashing their heads in. They refuse to call it anything else. They may be many things, but spin doctors they aren't. In trying to ramp up participation in their society, as opposed to another government funded one (yes, they get funding), the following conversation ensues:

Redesdale clarified: "There are two organizations. They promote red squirrels; we kill grays. We just kill grays."
"We just kill grays, that's all," Parker [his partner] echoed.
The woman, who looked to be in her 60s, gave the "Candid Camera" look.

Even though his foundation is called the Red Squirrel Protection Project. I guess the Gray Squirrel Killing Squad lacked a little something.

Remember when you were a kid, and watching Mutual of Ohama's Wild Kingdom on TV every Sunday? One week you're watching a bird eating a bug they've forced you to care about and hating the bird. The next week, something is gnawing (off-camera) on the bird, and, last week's bug forgotten, you cry for the bird. This squirrel thing is like that. The grays kill off the reds; we would get to the cottage, where there are seldom any gray squirrels, and my father would start chasing off the red squirrels.

The reds chase out the chipmunks, which he liked even more.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you've still got some of those illegal traps your dad used to use, I'll come & pick them up! Grey squirrels, red squirrels, black squirrels ... they've all moved in under my double roof up here in the country. As long as they're quiet, I don't mind too much. But when they start playing the bongos, tap dancing and gnawing at steel & wood, I lose my writing focus and start getting a leetle bit pissed off (especially if I'm on the hard part of formatting my book in stupid Word ... grrrrrr).

I read that NY Times article this morning (yeah, the WHOLE thing) and dearly wished Mr. Redesdale would come to my town for a visit. With Mr. Parker in tow, of course.

October 07, 2007 9:51 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Donna, I now know you are a real wrriter if you have random squirrel stories...and read 6 page articles in the Times. Welcome.

October 09, 2007 9:25 AM  

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