Farmers in New England are vexed by unusually large numbers of squirrels that are gnawing their way through pumpkin patches, corn fields and apple orchards this fall.
Robert Randall, who has a 60-acre orchard in Standish, Maine, told The Associated Press: “They’re raising some hell this year. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen.”
The squirrel population boom appears to have been fueled by a bumper crop of acorns and other food, according to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.
Growers say one of the more infuriating aspects of the squirrels is that they often take a single bite then move on. But just one bite is all it takes to ruin fruit.
The rodents are now being killed in greater numbers by passing vehicles as they dart to find their next meal.
Five infant squirrels that got their tails caught together in a giant knot were rescued and untied by the Wisconsin Humane Society. They were taken to the group’s vets by someone who came across the bizarre scene of their tails caught in what the rescuers called a “Gordian knot” of squirrel tail and nest material. “You can imagine how wiggly and unruly (and nippy!) this frightened, distressed ball of squirrelly energy was, so our first step was to anesthetize all five of them at the same time,” the Humane Society said. The squirrels were frazzled but unharmed by the experience.
A new Russian fad of nabbing squirrels out of parks to keep them as pets has officials threatening large fines for those who continue to squirrel away the animals.
Some nature lovers say they are outraged by the poaching, which has led to Moscow’s Ecological Control unit beefing up surveillance in the city’s parks to protect the wildlife.
People who collect the bushy-tailed animals can resell them as pets for about 5,000 rubles ($144).
Despite Russian websites selling squirrels that say the animals are a “friendly and gentle” to keep around the house, they actually can bite and are not domesticated.