Squirrel opinion is plain nuts

In a previous letter I went out on a limb and defended squirrels, arguing that they are cute and provide a kinetic element to gardens. I admitted that occasionally (once or twice a year in the cold of winter) I feed them. This admission caused dismay by one reader who complained to the editor. She also criticized the paper for printing a photo of a gun in the same issue.

Dear Editor,

In a previous letter I went out on a limb and defended squirrels, arguing that they are cute and provide a kinetic element to gardens. I admitted that occasionally (once or twice a year in the cold of winter) I feed them. This admission caused dismay by one reader who complained to the editor. She also criticized the paper for printing a photo of a gun in the same issue.

At first I thought that this letter writer must be easily dismayed. Then I went to the Internet and found that there is indeed much evidence against squirrels.

SquirrelNews.com reports that chewing on wires has caused citywide power outages and house fires around the world. The varmints are accused of spreading West Nile Virus, ticks and fleas. Last year a squirrel attack even caused a Finnish opera singer to crash his bike.

Then I read that the town of Dunlap, Iowa, is rallying around a solution to their urban wildlife menace. In September the town is sponsoring “a youth squirrel hunt” for boys and girls ages 12 to 15 who have completed a gun safety course.

My former neighbor allegedly trapped and drowned the hated critters on her deck. But, according to the Washington State Fish and Wild Life Web site, drowning is cruel. “Living with Wildlife” recommends that after all non-lethal means of subduing the pest have been exhausted, and a legal permit has been obtained, the most humane way to euthanize a pest mammal is a gunshot to the head.

Have a heart. Gun or no gun, killing squirrels when they haven’t done serious harm is nuts.

~Gary Gillespie, Kirkland

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