Wednesday, December 26, 2007

News of the Weird - 4: Squirrels

From the You Know It's the End of the World When Files:

To the list of stories that were once weird but now occur with such frequency that they must be retired from circulation, we add: (87) the animal (often a squirrel) that blunders into equipment at an electrical substation, killing itself and knocking out power for thousands (as in Auburn, California, and Ironwood, Michigan, in November); and (88) the shoplifter who brings a child along on the job, then abandons him to flee from security officers (as 39-year-old Suzzette Gruber allegedly did to her eight-month-old son in Hartsdale, New York, in October).*

Note: I have no plans on taking Joss with me on such errands. So that's not so relevant.

But, whoa, did you hear that? Killer Kamikaze Squirrels? They're coming after us, from all angles. Including attacking our children in the open daylight.

According to a story by a Bay Area NBC affiliate, the cute little rodents are overly aggressive in a park in Mountain View, where six people have reportedly been attacked since May.

The city is trying to make sure people don't bring food into the children's play area at the park."I think it's our fault, because we made them aggressive," Carmen Perez of Palo Alto said. "Now it's dangerous and we have to do something." [Officials said the increasingly brazen behavior stems from years of being fed by park visitors.]

In response to attacks, the city of Mountain View has announced it plans to start trapping and killing the aggressive tree squirrels...

But, wait, it gets weirder.

Ironically, efforts to curb the behavior may have exacerbated the squirrels' aggressive tendencies, Muela said. This summer, the city installed new trash receptacles featuring metal tops with a latch that makes it nearly impossible for an animal to rummage through the can in search of food. Increased park ranger patrols and flier distributions cautioning against feeding the animals might have further cut the squirrels' food supply, prompting them to act more assertively in their quest for food.

But of course, some people are irate at the prospect of killing God's little fuzzy-tailed rats. One citizen, however, seems to fuel the fires of conspiracy theorists with his email:

"The squirrels will be back," South Bay wildlife rehabilitator Norma Campbell said. "For every one you take out, two more will come in. It could be a never-ending project that isn't going to accomplish anything."

Sound familiar anyone?

*Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird, Chicago Reader December 20, 2007

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