People, there is some VERY disturbing news coming out of California. No, not the devastating droughts and unprecedented wildfires, or the L.A.P.D. getting cartoonist Ted Rall fired from the Los Angeles Times by dropping an audio tape that of course turned out to be bullshit. I refer, of course, to the squirrels.
You see, part of Yosemite National Park has been closed by health officials because, it seems, a second tourist there has contracted the plague. The plague! As in, you know, the Black Death? That little pandemic that killed an estimated 30–60% of Europe’s total population in the fourteenth century? YES THAT PLAGUE.
And guess how it’s being spread. Go ahead, guess.
By fucking squirrels.
Squirrels are a fucking menace.
I need to come clean here with Loyal Readers™. You might expect that since I live in downtown Manhattan, if I were to seriously hate on a fellow species–and let’s face it, all species are fellow species—it would probably be pigeons or something. Rats. Maybe cockroaches, which, as far as I’m concerned, ought to be the official symbol of New York City based on their sheer impudence and tenacity alone. Or perhaps those giant waterbugs everyone thinks New Yorkers are totally exaggerating about, until they actually see one and realize that some insects never got the memo that the Permian era ended hundreds of millions of years ago.
NOPE. I have come to loathe and detest no species on Earth so much as those members of the Order Rodentia, Suborder Sciuromorpha, Family Sciuridae. Well, besides H. sapiens, but that should go without saying. (See: virtually every post on this blog.)
Oh, I know what you’re thinking. But Iris! Squirrels are soooo cyoooot! How could you harbor such ill will towards our adorable little bushy-tailed cousins?
Okay first of all, you are woefully uninformed about the true nature and utter depravity of these beasts, an unfortunate and increasingly urgent state of affairs I intend to remedy shortly, and at length. (Wait, what?) Second, “ill will” does not even begin to cover it.
The squirrel-plague nexus.
Yersinia pestis bacteria. THE FUCKING PLAGUE, people.
In the wild, the plague bacteria Yersinia pestis circulates via flea bites among animal populations, particularly rodents—and squirrels are fucking rodents. Humans, such as our Yosemite tourists, become infected when bitten by a flea that has bitten a plague-ridden rodent. (Like, oh, say…a squirrel.) But that’s not the only disease vector. Once infected, humans can spread the plague amongst themselves by coughing or sneezing, contact (including sexual contact) with an infected person, indirect contact like touching a contaminated surface, breathing air under certain conditions where the plague bacteria can remain airborne, and the most disgusting transmission route of all, “fecal-oral,” from ingesting food or water contaminated with the diseased shit—literally, the actual shit—of the plague-infected. Think: Ebola. But with squirrels.
Take a look at how fast the plague spread in the fourteenth century, and consider that back then, exposure to infected populations would have happened much more slowly than in the age of widespread air travel and crowded trains.
Now it is true that these days the plague is generally treatable with antibiotics, which did not exist during the Black Death pandemic because Jeezus “forgot” to tell us about them. However, the plague can still be fatal if left untreated for whatever reason, including misdiagnosis, or lack of access to quality health care in this truly exceptional country. Just think about that the next time you have “fever, chills, nausea, weakness and swollen lymph nodes,” and your doctor tells you to just go home, get some rest and drink lots of fluids. By the way, do you think the United States has a stash of antibiotics for 321,216,397 people? And what happens if (when?) an adaptive mutation leaves Yersinia pestis impervious to antibiotics?
Anyway. It turns out the two recent cases of squirrel-plague in Yosemite tourists are by no means isolated incidents, either. In fact:
Since 1970, 40 cases of plague have been reported in California, and nine people have died from the disease.
OMFG. I had no idea.
Squirrels are escalating their attacks.
Last year, a squirrel caused $300,000 in damage to a community center in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Just this summer alone:
- A Michigan police department has named a squirrel a suspect in a $128,000 nut heist.
DO NOT APPROACH!
This squirrel is considered armed and dangerous.
- Then, a squirrel was caught on camera devouring A FUCKING SNAKE in a Texas Park.
Oh, did you think they only ate nuts? NOT ANYMORE.
- A drunk squirrel—yes, you read that right—caused massive damage at a UK pub. When workers arrived they naturally assumed the place had been robbed by H. sapiens: beer all over the floor, glasses and bottles knocked off the shelves, a real shitshow. Then a slow moving squirrel staggered out. The little fucker managed to turn on a tap, and drained (or drank!) more than $450 worth of beer. WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE BEER.
- On Friday in Clark County, Washington, a suicide terrorist squirrel bit into an overhead power line in order to set himself ablaze and fall to the ground, thereby setting a patch of grass on fire. Fortunately, firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze and no one was harmed. This time.
The squirrels are clearly escalating their attacks. They have become much more brazen and organized, as these pictures I just found with a quick Google search on the Internets clearly attest:
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Shit gets personal.
When squirrels begin to overpopulate an area, they will cause damage to trees, shrubs, ornamental plantings, gardens, and “structures”—as in, your fucking house. Squirrel populations are normally kept in check by environmental factors including weather patterns, predators (foxes, hawks and owls) and the availability of food. This is why no one should feed squirrels, ever, not even accidentally: squirrel-proof bird feeders are A Thing for good reason.
Well. It has come to our attention that the Palace’s neighbors—whose outdoor space is separated from our magnificent gardens by a fence—have been feeding squirrels. ON PURPOSE. They even have a fucking sign and everything!
OH. NO. THEY. DIDN’T.
As a result of this unconscionable perfidy, large numbers of squirrels have been digging burrows all over the place, uprooting and eating our bulbs, flinging mulch hither and fro, PLANTING THEIR FREE FUCKING PEANUTS THAT THE NEIGHBORS ARE FEEDING THEM which very quickly sprout up into unsightly peanut plants, and just generally trashing the joint with wild abandon.
Our Humble Abode: The Palace and surrounding gardens.*
We read somewhere that dogwood berries are poisonous to squirrels, so of course we planted a big dogwood tree right up against the shared fence line last fall. Yet we are still overrun with the little fuckers. We have doubled the gardening staff and landscaping crews, and still we can barely keep up with all of the wanton destruction. Last year, My Amazing Lover™ asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and I told him a high-powered BB gun with a scope. He declined to purchase me one, which, okay, I admit that was probably for the best. But I did insist on decorating the Palace Yule tree with owl ornaments in order to make an anti-squirrel political statement.
This much is clear: all of us will need to do our parts to at the very least mitigate the pestilential scourge of squirrels, if not eradicate them entirely. We certainly have our work cut out for us too, because of so many unrepentant assholes—including my very own mother! Can you even believe this shit?!—who insist on feeding them, or even keeping them as pets. (?!) These people cannot be reasoned with. As a first step, then, we must educate ourselves and any others who can be reached before the Squirrelpocalypse is upon us and it’s too late.
Here are some links to get started:
How to Stop Squirrels. Squirrels will happily destroy your garden, invade your attic, and eat your fucking house: they can and will chew through pretty much anything that isn’t metal. This website offers tips, tactics and product suggestions for keeping your Palace and surrounding areas squirrel-free.
Natural predators of squirrels. I propose that we immediately scale up massive breeding programs for rat snakes, hawks, great horned owls and barred owls, red and gray foxes and bobcats.
“Squirrels were once major pests.” Read about the experiences of early European settlers in Ohio and see for yourself just how bad things can get. TRIGGER WARNING: this is the stuff of nightmares and horror movies—and yes, it can still happen today.
Squirrel hunting tips on how to get started. (<—Self-explanatory.)
Know your squirrel hunting season. For example, in most of New York State the hunting season for gray, black and fox squirrels starts September 1 and continues through February, with a bag limit of six. That’s six daily. RED SQUIRRELS CAN BE HUNTED YEAR ROUND WITHOUT LIMITS.
Squirrel Recipes. (These are via the Missouri Department of Conservation, but there are many others.) Squirrel is one of the most ethical meats one can consume, and apparently pretty tasty too. Hey, don’t knock it until you try it.
Braised squirrel with bacon, mushrooms and Pinot Noir.
IMPORTANT REMINDER: cook your squirrels thoroughly to make sure you KILL ALL OF THE FUCKING PLAGUE BACTERIA.
It’s time to wake up, people. Forget the War on Terror. And we definitely do not need a War on Drugs. What we need is a war on squirrels. These demon spawn pose perhaps the greatest threat human civilization has ever faced.
*Due to security concerns, we obviously cannot reveal publicly what the Palace and its surrounding gardens actually look like. The pictures herein are simply meant to give readers an idea of the overwhelming scale of the squirrel problem we are dealing with here.
UPDATE: Texas firefighters are rescuing squirrels. JFC.
UPDATE 2: In Verona, Wisconsin another suicide terrorist squirrel blew up some electrical shit and disrupted power to 2,172 customers. And in Eagle Mountain, Utah, another squirrel pulled the same shit, leaving 3,125 homes and businesses in the dark.