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Squirrels Week

Friday, August 24, 2012

Where have all the squirrels gone?

Posted By on 08.24.12 at 06:48 AM

Youre welcome, little fella
Well, this is awkward.

Ever since I advocated eating squirrels last week in order to protect tomato plants from the little terrorists, I've received lots of advice from readers:

Plant rosebushes around your tomatoes.
Put out rat poison.
Get a watchdog.
Get a guard cat.
Get a wrist rocket.
Squirrels are just thirsty. Put a bowl of water under your plants and they'll leave your tomatoes alone.

Turns out, this year it hasn't been a problem at all. Last week, I sustained my first—and so far only—squirrel attack, on a small green cherry that might never have ripened anyway this late in the season. You're welcome, little fella.

That went against all my expectations for this season. I'd been carefully watching the squirrels throughout our mild, practically springlike winter with growing trepidation. They were everywhere, in terrifying numbers, grotesquely fat, furry little plumpers swarming the naked parks and alleys unblanketed by snow.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Big squirrel on campus

Posted By on 08.23.12 at 02:56 PM

This squirrel is ready for college
One thing I'm taking from my time as a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is that college is not only a time and place to learn, explore, and grow as a person, but it's also a time to form a newfound appreciation of squirrels.

A surplus of squirrels is not exclusive to U. of I.—it exists on campuses nationwide. There are thriving squirrel populations at campuses all over the nation, such as Grinnell College, University of Maryland, and Missouri State University. College campuses tend to have large squirrel populations because semi-urban, tree-filled university campuses are an ideal habitat for squirrels, according to Mother Nature Network. Research has even found that college-campus squirrels are more amenable to humans than squirrels that inhabit wooded parks. Conducted by students at Miami University in Ohio, the research project found that the campus squirrels let people approach them "to a point 9.2 feet away on average," while the squirrels in the park let them approach them "to a point 16.9 feet away on average."

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Attack of the gourmet squirrel

Posted By on 08.23.12 at 06:41 AM

Underestimate at your own risk
  • Underestimate me at your own risk
Unlike squirrel hunter Mike Sula, I'm a fan and admirer of Sciurus carolinensis. But it's true I haven't been terrorized by one.

Not so Grapevine publicist Jenn Galdes. Last year, as Sula was hard at work on his harvest of indigenous protein, Jenn sent me several e-mails chronicling the exploits of her nemesis, who'd found a way into her kitchen:

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Interview with Carol Sciurus, eastern gray squirrel

Posted By on 08.22.12 at 06:42 AM

  • PierreSelim
Since its publication last week, Mike Sula's feature story on eating eastern gray squirrels has courted debate on whether or not it's morally objectionable to do such a thing. Whether it's in our own comments thread or yesterday on WBEZ, everyone wants to discuss the pros and cons of eating these furry inhabitants of our not-so-fair city.

But amid all this chatter, I've noticed that no one has asked the squirrels themselves what they think of Sula's piece. And for shame! After all, it's their lives at stake.

It took a considerable effort, but through a friend of a friend of a friend, I was able to track down Carol Sciurus, an eastern gray squirrel who mostly resides in Washington Square Park, better known as Bughouse Square, directly in front of the entrance to the Newberry Library. I figured that, living outside such a storied institution of information as the Newberry, Carol would surely be articulate enough to voice some of her concerns about Sula's piece. The following is our exchange, exactly as it took place:

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Letter to the editor: Carnivorous Anthropocentrism!

Posted By on 08.21.12 at 06:48 AM

  • Yummy
We knew it was coming. It was inevitable.

Every time Reader food writer Mike Sula ventures deep into the realm of carnivorousness, we're going to hear from Brien Comerford. Here's his latest salvo, in response to Sula's feature story "Chicken of the trees."

To: letters
Sent: Thu, Aug 16, 2012 10:49 pm
Subject: Carnivorous Anthropocentrism!

Reading the August 16 Headline article was tantamount to concurrently having both mortifying hallucinations and horrific realizations that carnivorous anthropocentrism is exacerbating and perpetuating mankind's descent into perdition. The columnist's grandeur for the omnipotent intelligence of man and irreverent lack of respect for the earthly value for animals is palpably laden with vainglory. Instead of sanely promoting the virtues of veganism he spirals out of control and condones the hunting, butchering and unpalatable consumption of squirrels. The latter are wretchedly demonized as veritable vermin and so are raccoons, opossums and deer. The columnist's bogus empathy for the plight of cows and chickens in factory farms and slaughterhouses is farcical. I'm finally convinced that the only people on this planet that have any sanity and serenity are the Jains of India. They adhere to the creed of ahimsa that mandates believers not to cause any pain or suffering to any innocent beings. Under no circumstances will they eat the dead flesh of our fellow creatures. Carnivorous anthropocentrism is anathema to them and the enlightened animal lovers, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and Jews who eschew flesh-foods. The moral illuminati know that killing animals for food is a spiritual crime and smoking pot is not. Holy cow, they're right!

Brien Comerford

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Starting today on the Bleader: Squirrels Week

Posted By on 08.20.12 at 06:43 AM

  • Peter Thomas Ryan
Last Thursday's cover story by Reader restaurant critic Mike Sula examined a protein source that's rarely cited as a delicacy: the urban eastern gray squirrel. Since we often dedicate each week's installment of our Variations on a Theme series to the prior week's feature, it didn't take us long to make the leap to Squirrels Week. And judging from the speed at which the comments thread is progressing, the topic of squirrels—if not the practice of turning them into stew—is picking up momentum.

To keep the conversation going, this week's edition of Variations on a Theme is devoted to everyone's favorite bushy-tailed, acorn-nibbling, public park terrorists. Every morning we'll be posting varying takes on an animal that some consider to be a tiny, furry friend—and others liken to "chicken thigh, lean and not at all tough."

In case you missed it, here's a link to Botany Week, last week's Variations on a Theme (and do read "The grow house next door," the article by Mick Dumke and Ben Joravsky that inspired it).

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