Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Great Squirrel Recession

The economy is pretty bad now for humans around here, with some people calling this deep recession the new Great Depression. Well, now even the squirrels are hitting hard times due to a dramatic shortage of acorns. From Virginia to Pennsylvania to New York to the Midwest, naturalists are reporting a startling loss of acorns, according to the Washington Post.

People are reporting, that even on their own properties, oak trees that were dropping acorns like crazy last year are bare this year. According to experts, the squirrels are at risk of starving this winter due to this shortage.

Without their normal foodstuff, squirrels are on the rampage, according to the story. Calls have come in to animal control offices reporting “crazy squirrels” that are “eating garbage, inhaling bird feed (and) greedily demolishing pumpkins.”

“Let’s hope it’s not something ghastly going on with the natural world,” said one naturalist.

Wow…this appears to be serious stuff…especially since Raleigh is known as “The City of Oaks” and the symbol for the town is a giant acorn that drops from sort of a contrived oak tree to mark the beginning of the New Year.

I have always believed that the squirrel, by way of their dependence on acorns and sheer population in this area should have some official status as either Raleigh’s animal ambassador or worst pest. (This is a real dilemma…The River’s program manager, Brian Taylor tells me that squirrels are just tree rats with a good PR firm…and he knows about these sorts of things.)

Some quick ideas from said PR firm: Raleigh, Where the Squirrels are Fat”. Raleigh, Land of Happy Squirrels” or better yet, “Raleigh, Where the Dogs are Always Entertained”. (This last one works for me since I have always believed that the common yard squirrel was placed here solely to give dogs something to occupy their time and thoughts.)

I did some looking around to see if any organizations that are concerned with squirrels had any insights into the squirrel recession. Instead, I found mostly organizations that wish the worst for squirrels. Besides wanting to eradicate them, some of these groups, such as the Anti Squirrel Coalition believe that squirrels “are satanic, non-American, non-apple pie loving, non-smoking, communist tree rats!”

The ASC believes that squirrels “deliberately try to make drivers crash their vehicles by suddenly running across the street. Most people slam on the breaks and/or swerve their car erratically in such scenarios. It's a natural reaction and Squirrels know and exploit this, especially on wet or frozen roads.”

The ASC believes you should ask yourself the following questions when confronting a squirrel on the road: 'Is avoiding a squirrel who is running across the highway worth swerving to avoid and in the process dying in a fireball explosion as my car skids off the pavement and plummets into a 2000 foot deep chasm of doom?' This is the same group that says that the reason that the proverbial chicken crossed the road was to show squirrels (and humans) it could be done successfully, thus proving that squirrels are screwing it up on purpose.

Anyway, back to this claim that squirrels are satanic. My mother-in-law, who is deeply religious, spends most of her free time sewing and doing wonderful arts and crafts. Her other pursuit is killing squirrels in her back yard with a pellet rifle. She absolutely hates them.

According to the biblical expert Tim Rowland, the Bible contains a possible clue. It is written: “And thoust shall knowest it is the end of days when thine acorns driest up from thine mightiest oak and thine squirrels shall freakest out.”

So maybe this whole acorn shortage is some sort of biblical event. Or perhaps it’s just nature’s way of saying that the squirrel population is out of balance. You know people used to eat a lot of squirrel. In fact the original “Brunswick Stew” that you can get at almost any barbecue restaurant was made with squirrel. (Now they use chicken, which taste like squirrel…which begs the question: What came first? “Squirrel tastes like chicken” or “chicken tastes like squirrel”.

We actually served squirrel pizza at a recent party….and everyone loved it. (Of course they didn’t know it was squirrel). Quick recipe: skin the squirrel, remove head and boil whole for at least an hour. Then strip the squirrel meet off the bones and dice into small pieces. Then sauté the squirrel in olive oil, fresh garlic, red pepper flakes and salt to taste. Spread the meat thinly over a store bought frozen three cheese pizza and cooked until bubbly. Bonn appetite!


Anonymous said...

I am sure James Beard would have been sorry not to include the recipe for squirrel withthe red baron pizza in one his many cookbooks. Or was it tombstone pizza?

Brooks said...

maybe the recession is occurring because we're supposed to all start eating squirrel again to control the populations. just a thought.