Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tryin' To Get A Nut

Is it just me, or has anyone else in Chicago noticed the rabid overpopulation of squirrels in this city? Actually, I never noticed it myself until recently adopting a dog, to whom squirrels are the equivalent of crack cocaine. She loses all self-control upon seeing one, and I'm afraid of letting her off of her leash in the park for fear that she'll run away, follow a squirrel down the rabbit-hole, and I'll find her in a year banging Rottweilers for another squirrel rock.

Now I grew up in the suburbs with a backyard full of trees, and therefore squirrels. I never thought much of it beyond my mom's complaints about her garden turning into a buffet line for the resident squirrels and rabbits. Then I moved to the city and started seeing rodents of the urban variety. (I'll save my disgust for pigeons, a.k.a. feathered rats, for another time and concentrate here on mammals.) My confusion is how a fluffy tale is the difference between getting an exterminator called on your ass and crazy park-dwellers feeding you out of their hand.

From my bus stop on Marine Drive, I can look across the street into Margate Park and with the naked eye see five different squirrels scampering around within 20 yards of each other, and another three hopping between branches within that same radius. Can you imagine the reaction of North Siders to the sight of eight brown rats in that same amount of space? Granted, there may actually be exponentially more rats in that same space that just happen to be out of sight, but you get my point.

So how many squirrels does it take before they are considered overpopulated? Until they are considered a nuisance, and recognized as the rodents that they are? When will we stand up and scream: Not in MY neighborhood, Squirrelheads!

Or maybe someone has a recommendation for how to break my dog's addiction and I can go back to my affection for the cuddly rats...


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