|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!