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Sometimes, you've just got to face reality

Okay, it’s time to stop tiptoeing around this subject. It’s too important to keep sidestepping. When something is affecting your very way of life, someone has to speak out.

I’m talking about squirrels.

I’ve probably written more about squirrels than any other subject. Just like everything else I’ve ever campaigned against, they continue to thrive.

When you constantly complain about something, people will send you things to remind you of it. I should have started out complaining about money. 

I’ve gotten squirrel paper weights, squirrel T-shirts, even a squirrel feeder.

My friends Steve and Susie Bennett sent me a book, “Squirrel Proofing Your House and Garden” — which is about as futile an enterprise as writing a book on “Teaching Drivers to Use Turn Signals.” The first chapter in the book really engenders confidence: “The Squirrels Are in Control.”

And, squirrels can sense hatred and turn it against you.

I was inside Liberty’s Patterson Cottage Museum back in the early summer and one fell out of the ceiling at my feet, flipped its tail at me, chattered a squirrel vulgarity and ran out the door.

The eastern gray squirrel is the tree rat that antagonizes us most here in the Piedmont. Its Latin name is “ratus agravatus” which loosely translated means “pest that chews cable lines.”

As I write this, the tree rats are employed in stripping pecan trees of every green pecan in the county. They can’t wait till they get ripe. You couldn’t lure a squirrel away from a pecan tree right now with a Golden Corral buffet.

Everyone thinks how brilliant squirrels are. They bury their pecans in the fall and dig them back up in the winter. Wrong. They do bury them, of course. But if they found them later, I wouldn’t have all these little pecan trees growing up in my yard and flower pots.

You might have seen the recent news about the Fargo, ND, man who came home to find 175 pounds of black walnuts under the hood of his Chevy Avalanche in the engine bay. I’m certain that when the squirrel ran out of nuts, probably around November, he would have started in on the electrical system.
Google “squirrel attacks man” and see what pops up on the Internet. Here are a few examples:

“Squirrel attack leaves woman bloodied and hospitalized.”

“Gang of squirrels is terrorizing people in New York City.”

“Squirrel attacks man in Warren County.”

“Vicious squirrel attacks Rego Park residents.”

“Squirrel gone nuts leaves Texas moms fearful after bloody attacks.”

The list goes on and on.

There are reasons squirrels have gone mad if, in fact, they ever were sane. And that is debatable.

First, their habitat is changing. There are now more squirrels in town than in rural areas. I am sure of this. I’ve counted them in my back yard.

With their habitat changing, their food source has changed. Instead of living off nuts and bark and an occasional tractor tire, they’ve learned to thrive on automobile hoses, cable and phone lines, house siding, attic supports and anything remotely valuable or useful to human beings. They’ll dig up your flowers just for fun.

Then there’s the antiquated hunting laws. Squirrel season in North Carolina is only about four months long. This gives the devious devils eight months to run and rampage without harassment. And the law, at least in North Carolina, will not let you use artillery, explosives or even automatic weaponry to hunt the furry fiends. I can’t even fire a 30.06 out my bedroom window at them just because “I live in town.” Where, I might add, all the squirrels live, too.

Squirrels will fool you with their “cute” actions and, if you’re not careful, will have you doing their bidding before you’re the wiser. They’re like someone who pretends to be homeless so he can bum money to buy booze. Squirrels are the hucksters of the forest.

I used to joke, before the animal rights folks began to picket our house, that I would feed the squirrels sun flower seeds. I’d put them in the middle of Highway 49. Of course, this was a joke but those people are sensitive.

Now I’ve learned to live with the hairy hellions, especially after reading the book the Bennetts sent. Sometimes you’ve just got to face reality. The squirrels are in control.