Unprompted: The Age-Old Battle of Homeowner vs. Squirrel 

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For years I tolerated squirrels in my yard because they really weren’t a problem. Besides, we have walnut trees and the little tree rats pick up the walnuts each fall and take them away. Sure, they dug holes in my yard, but it was a fair trade-off for the walnut removal. Besides, I don’t have to aerate.

Then things changed. Not satisfied with walnuts, the squirrels began gnawing the wires and hoses in my vehicles. First one car, then another. They even tried to eat my lawn tractor. It became very expensive. I decided to try to get rid of the squirrels.

A friend, who like me doesn’t want to kill anything, inverted a metal garbage can and lifted it by a rope to a tree overhead. When squirrels came to eat the food he’d left for them on the lid, he released the can and trapped the squirrels inside. Every few days he put the can in his truck and took the squirrels to Salisbury. Probably not very popular with the residents of Salisbury, but that’s what he did. I’m not sure it worked though.

Another friend sprayed pink paint on one of his squirrel’s tails and drove it two miles away for a new home. Sure enough, a couple of days later he spotted a pink-tailed squirrel in his yard.

I wanted a simpler solution. The various anti-squirrel agents available at Southern States didn’t seem to work. So I visited Bob’s Sports Shop to discuss purchase of a pellet gun. The guys at Bob’s advised me against it. They noted that if a neighbor reported me shooting a gun, even a pellet gun, it could land me in jail. That option was not attractive. I’m sure the jail in Chesterfield is very nice but I didn’t want the inconvenience of being arrested, and besides, the jail does not serve Starbucks coffee.

We have in my neighborhood the same problem with deer. The deer don’t try to eat my cars but they do destroy most everything we try to plant. Problem with shooting deer, other than going to jail, is what to do with the bodies. I can fling a dead squirrel into the woods, but dead deer not so much. One does not fling a deer.

Beyond that, most of the ladies in my neighborhood seem to think killing anything is evil. They assume that the salmon and hamburger they buy at Kroger died of natural causes. I doubt any of them have ever seen a chicken killed. I have. When a chicken’s head is cut off the rest of a chicken will go crazy, almost as if she didn’t like it. Chicken is good food, but the preparation for it is pretty nasty.

The guys at Bob’s also told me that if I killed one squirrel, five would come to its funeral. A clever way of saying my considered solution wouldn’t work. But I doubt that. I’ve seen many dead squirrels in the road and never seen any other squirrels come to their funerals. It’s as if the other squirrels don’t even care. There is no gathering of squirrels lamenting the death of Mildred. It is who they are. They all know that God told them to run in front of cars and what happens next is normal. My conclusion is that if I can actually kill a few squirrels in my yard, the other squirrels won’t give a damn.

I have over time killed other critters — bothersome insects, for example. As many mosquitoes as possible, and nobody complained. It seems that the smaller the victim, the less the outcry over its death. That’s why we revere dolphins, whales and tigers. Kill small things if you must, but leave the big living things alone. Which brings me back to the squirrels.

I’ve had it with these guys. One more time I will spray stuff in the undercarriage of my vehicles and hope they get the message. If that doesn’t work, I may adopt a really mean cat. After that, if the squirrels still are eating my cars … I will take appropriate action.

If you read in the paper that Gene’s been arrested you will know why. S

Gene Cox is an author and inventor who recently retired from a 35-year career as a television anchor in Richmond. Connect with him at letters@styleweekly.com, or on Twitter at genecoxrva.



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