Of squirrels and men

You’d think that with everything that is going in the world, both next door and beyond, there would be plenty for my neighbors to get heated up about—traders bringing down the world economy then getting rewarded with million dollar bonuses, an HIV infection rate in DC that compares with rates in Rwanda, young girls getting killed and burned then stuffed into the car trunks, elderly couples attacked and killed in peaceful suburbs. The list goes on.

But no. As all politics are local so it seems are most arguments. This one started innocently. A mildly worded complaint on the Del Ray community listserv about the squirrels in the neighborhood. Clearly this was a newbie as most of us who have lived here a while have learned to cohabitate with the wretched beasts. But the message has clearly touched a nerve. In one camp is the “they were here first so deal with it” crowd; on the other is the “nuke the vermin” crowd. It began civilly, with some wise comments about the decline of decent habitat for squirrel predators such a hawks, but deteriorated quickly. I don’t know if it’s reached the proverbial bottom yet but the latest missives are calling for evictions—of neighbors not squirrels. And those in the heat of the battle are taking the discussion beyond the confines of our little community and bringing in neighboring listservs and complaining viscerally of a suppression of free speech in Del Ray.

On the positive side, it’s provided insights into the nuanced world of urban wildlife. Were grey squirrels here first? No, they were introduced about 100 years ago. Has nearby development removed predator habitat? Absolutely. Are there still plenty of trees to build a nest? No question. But these trees happen to be the same ones where the squirrels live and as one respondent observed, the squirrels don’t seem to be particularly inhibited by their place on the food chain. We’ve even learned a bit about the starving deers that wander into chic Georgetown stores presumably looking for some eats. Gone is anything that can control this population other than regulated annual hunts.

The discussion has also demonstrated why adults, regardless of their perceived political or ideological similarities for the most part pick their friends selectively, particularly in places like Washington DC where people pack their resumes in their cell phones and live and let live is not a highly prized virtue. We’re a peaceful, progressive, like minded community right? Sure, as long as you think as I think and do as I do. People, they’re the worst.

Posted by patrickj on 03/25 at 07:25 AM
Environment • (1) CommentsPermalink


Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 >