Correspondence

Still Fighting the Civil War

The influx of Northern migrants to these parts continues to produce misunderstanding. Some time ago, the good people of Hillsborough, North Carolina, gave up their right to shoot marauding vermin in their own backyards to an official municipal squirrel-shooter. Citizens whose nut trees were being sacked, gardens despoiled, or houses chewed up (it happens) could call police officer William King, who would come over with his .22 and take care of the problem.

Now, according to the Chapel Hill Observer, a pushy newcomer has objected to this arrangement. "This is just pagan, to be out there shooting squirrels," says Karen McKinnon. Last November, she took her case to the town council, which responded by hedging the practice about with bureaucratic restrictions. Owners of all adjoining property must now be notified before a squirrel is shot, and the person requesting the shooting must be given a leaflet describing nonlethal methods of squirrel-removal. Am I the only one who finds it weird that it's harder to kill a squirrel than to get an abortion?

McKinnon believes that the long-term solution may lie in importing owls to control the squirrel population, but it's not clear why that's preferable. I think if I were a squirrel I'd prefer a .22 slug in the eye to being torn limb from limb by an owl. In fact, I'd prefer it even though I'm not a squirrel. Moreover, I don't understand why...

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