Sunday, October 22, 2006

It's A Squirrel

"You can't be suspicous of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideaology of a violet."

-Hal Borland

Ladies, and gentlemen, my readers, this is a squirrel! It's not a dangerous animal that is going to kill you in your sleep, or hide out with it's friends, just waiting for you to leave your house alone, so they can corner you and steal the wig off your head. It's not talking about you behind your back, it's not a's a squirrel.

I am speaking, only slightly in the abstract here, because Friday while I was in Pacific Grove, I saw a couple, who obviously hadn't educated themselves, on what a squirrel is, hit one with a Coke bottle. An event which left my mood less then wonderful the rest of my day, and gave me nightmares last night.

Here is how it happened. There is a particular place Alan and I like to take a picnic lunch to, when we drive down the central coast. It's a peaceful place, near the water, and as it happens, it has a large population of squirrels. They are extremely tame, because they have been around a lot of people so they have come to be aware of their surroundings, and interact well with the public. A lot of folks enjoy feeding them, but it is a no-no to do so, because you don't want to give them something that might not agree with what their natural diet should be.

Unfortunately, because of the feeding, they sometimes come up to you at the picnic tables, or the benches, and are friendly and pleasant to be around, but they usually beg for a taste of whatever you are having. I have NEVER seen one be aggressive, or anything less then manageable. See, if you want to discourage them from being around you, don't feed them. It really does work. They become bored and move onto the next person's picnic. They don't hang around where there isn't food. Apparently the couple we saw assault the squirrel Friday, hadn't taken the time to find out about what wildlife you need to be concerned about.

When you go to a national park, monument, or seashore, you are going to encounter wildlife. Butterflies, dragonflies, deer, rabbits, raccoons, spiders, seals, sea lions, cats, rats, gophers, squirrels, and maybe even the occasional moose, depending on where you are. Right? You are in their space, they are a part of the natural terrain. If you are in their territory, a little respect is called for. In this day and age, no one should be unable to either pick up a book and do some research, or hop onto the net and find out the facts.

It hurt my feelings, angered me, and offended me, to see a small ground squirrel, hop onto a bench, sit up on it's hind legs with it's hand stretched out, only to be knocked off the bench with a blow to it's head. When it landed on the ground, it put it's paw to it's head, as if rubbing the spot that hurt, and seemed a little shaken. I got mad, and yelled out my car window at the offensive couple in an attempt to stop them from doing further harm. She yelled back at me, which gave me a great deal of joy, because she ended up embarrassing herself as others looked on toward her... not me.

All I wanted to do was get her to stop hitting the squirrel, and give it a chance to get away. When a squirrel becomes frightened, it stands still, which is what this one was doing. She may had interpreted that as defiance. So, I was glad that doing a small thing, stopped a bad situation from becoming worse. Here is the thing. I do know that squirrels can be a nuisance, and I do know that there are traps that can be purchased or rented from local animal shelters to remove them safely, for you, and the squirrel. Damaging a part of nature, when there is ever another course to take, is the irresponsible way to handle things.

I understand about fear. I, at one time, was afraid of everything, including my own shadow, then one day I got tired of living my life in fear, and did something about it. Now, when I am afraid of something, I get proactive and educate myself regarding the object frightening me. It's the only way to live. I was once deathly afraid of opossums, since I did a little research, I have found out what amazing and fun creatures they are. Don't let their appearance fool you, they are kind, and actually clean little critters. If you don't like them in your yard, or if they have gotten into your garbage and made a mess, educate yourself on the facts. Is there something you can do to discourage their visits? Are you inadvertently part of the problem?

I was glad that yelling a simple, "Hey lady... knock it off," out my car window did the trick, because I didn't want to have to pick up my cell phone and call the police and a park ranger. Beware, harming an animal, in a national park, in California, is against the law. I am sure there are similar laws in each state. So, if you go to a park or beach or any other spot where you are likely to encounter nature, and you are unsure about what to be concerned about, it's really simple to do a little research so that you don't have to worry about things, and can enjoy your visit. If on the other hand, you are the ignorant lady from the other day... SHAME ON YOU!

The Squirrel Place

Compassionate Action Institute

Project Wildlife: Living With Squirrels

"Little Squirrel"
October, 2006


Sharon said...

Wow! How can someone think that is OK?

I would have yelled too. Probably stopped my car and gone over and got in her face about it.

No call for treating an animal like that. Especially a squirrel. Come on...They really couldn't hurt you unless you were doing something stupid.

DesLily said...

makes you wonder why someone who is not an animal person would go into "animal territory" doesn't it?

Suzanne R said...

I'm so glad you yelled at her. What they did was indefensible! The poor little squirrel! I happen to think they are wonderful little creatures. When Steve and I went to Crater Lake one summer, there were signs around saying not to feed the wildlife but having a big streak of rebel in him, he fed a chipmunk or two and a few whiskey jacks (birds) anyway. They were totally great and well-behaved, and I can't imagine a reason for a sane person to ever attack such a critter. I'll get off my soapbox now . . .

Ranger Gord said...

Do not be so quick to judge. Perhaps this was a squirrel with hunger driven rage from Mountain View, California. Squirrels from this area recently attacked a 4 year old boy, nearly gnawing his right arm off in the process of stealing his muffin. This squirrel may have relocated to your area due to the recent enforcement of squirrel feeding bans, which everyone knows just encourages unprovoked squirrel violence.

Read the full details in my post: Ranger Gord's Campfire Stories: When squirrels attack

Wil said...

No, it's a rat with a bushy tail and a good PR firm...