Monday, April 1, 2019

April Fool!

A light case of mange

On the whole it's been a good winter for the squirrels here, and most have survived nicely. I can recall winters when that was not the case -- winters when we'd find young squirrels frozen to death, and many squirrels with ugly sores that weren't healing well. If you go back through my blog you can see some of those sad cases in the past. That was the way it was when I first started feeding squirrels here. What we're seeing now is a few youngsters who need some extra care, but it's nothing that a little nutrition won't cure. I've been focusing on a few of these little guys who are just not that good yet at competing with the bigger squirrels for food. They almost have to be hand-fed.


 I also have my eye on my sweet pet, the gray mother squirrel that I call "Queen of the Oranges", who seems to be not doing that well right now. I saw her today for the first time in three days, and tried to fill her up with as much food as possible.  She seems a bit shaky, and I'm wondering if she has arthritis.  I honestly don't know why all squirrels don't have arthritis, given their harsh living conditions.

Mama squirrel, "The Orange Queen"

As you can imagine, I was none too pleased to be informed by one of the security guards that "as of today there will be no more feeding of squirrels or birds, under penalty of a lease violation."

I waited for "April Fool!"
Alas, it was not forthcoming.

I'm so worried about the squirrels that need that extra little bit of help right now. I can't abandon them!

But come to think of it, I've been receiving mixed messages from management. About a month ago a guard came over and told me: "We don't mind if you feed the squirrels, just don't do it near any of the playgrounds." And then a few weeks ago another guard said: "Just make sure you do this -- (he made a throwing gesture) -- keep them in their habitat." So maybe it was April Fool! There seems to be a general fear of squirrels in the air. I've watched as people stop in their tracks, afraid to move forward if a couple of squirrels are in their path.  It's almost like Alfred Hitchcock's "The Squirrels". And then there are the boys that yell at the squirrels saying things like "Stupid squirrels!" To that I say, stupid boys!
New York City would also like to outlaw feeding squirrels and pigeons in the public parks. A rule breaker could face a $50 fine, and the possibility of a day in jail, or additional fine up to $200. 

The reason? Feeding squirrels and birds feeds the rats, they say. But rats don't eat peanuts or bird seed. And besides, the squirrels don't leave edibles lying around: they immediately vacuum the area, and what they don't scarf down gets buried. The remains -- empty peanut shells - would be useless to rats. Rats eat "people food" out of trash cans. Maybe the real solution is to ban people from eating in public parks.

 Another argument given is that animals should be able to find their own food. Now that may be true of big parks like Central Park that have lots of woods, but the smaller public parks offer little in the way of squirrel food. In the fall at Peter Cooper Village you'll see some acorns falling from the few oak trees here, but that's not enough to sustain the entire squirrel population through the fall and winter. Come spring, there are buds on trees, but that's about it and they don't last long. They're salad for squirrels, but where's the sirloin? As the saying goes, where's the beef

PCV parks are private property, so city rules don't apply there, but it's possible that they're putting their own nefarious plans in place.  If so, God help the squirrels!

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