Snow: Nominating polecat as N.C.'s new state animal

asnow@newsobserver.comJuly 21, 2012 

Some time back, a gal by the name of Wendy Nash wrote a book called “I’m Mad As Hell and I Ain’t Gonna Take It Anymore.”

Well, them’s my sentiments. Trouble is, apparently I do have to keep on taking it from North Carolina’s state animal – the cursed grey squirrel!

In a recent column I described how, when we were out of town, the squirrels gnawed through the porch screen and consumed almost a bag full of sunflower seed, leaving the hulls and their own droppings all over the porch.

That was only a prelude for things to come.

After their invasion, I stored the next bag of seed in the trunk of my car parked on the driveway near our bird-feeding station.

“That’ll take care of that problem,” I said confidently.

It did. Until two weeks ago.

When we returned from a week’s vacation, I opened the trunk in order to refill the feeders. Yep, you guessed it. The floor of the trunk was covered in seed husks, and the plastic bag was totally shredded.

The varmints had gnawed their way through the bottom of the car, making two big holes in the trunk’s interior wall.

When the car wouldn’t start, I assumed they had probably cut the fuel line. When I let the car roll down the driveway, I noticed a trail of pieces of chewed wiring.

Since we moved here 50 years ago just a pebble’s throw from Crabtree Valley, the original settlers seem to have resented our presence.

First came a siege of raccoons. I hired a professional Critter Catcher, who trapped 12 raccoons in rapid succession at $25 a head. Finally, the good man said, “Mr. Snow, I hate to keep taking your money. The woods are full of them. Besides, the city will catch them for free.”

So Raleigh’s Animal Control contingent and I became friends, with only one minor misunderstanding.

I called for help one day and the dispatcher said, “Our crew is out in the field at the moment but I’ll contact them and they’ll be out shortly.”

I waited. And waited. I kept calling back from the bedroom phone.

Finally, I made one more call to the dispatcher, this time from the kitchen phone, by merely hitting the re-dial button.

When the phone was answered, I said impatiently, “Ma’am, your people still haven’t come. I’ve got a ’possum on the front steps. Squirrels are swarming all over the patio. At the edge of the back lawn, a deer is munching happily on the hydrangeas. And I’m not kidding. There’s a big, fat raccoon peeping in the den window at this very moment! Now just tell me, once and for all; are you coming out here or not?”

After a brief pause, an icy voice with an undeniable Yankee accent replied, “I’m sorry, sir. I don’t think we can help you with your problem. This is the Boston Museum of Art.”

It seemed my wife that morning had used the kitchen phone to order something from the museum.

Cousin Joe Ellen and friend Glenn Keever came by to view the latest damage and try to start the car. They marveled at the havoc the evil creatures had wrought.

Glenn, noticing a squirrel trap baited with corn, said, “You’re wasting your corn and your energy. There are more squirrels in Brookhaven than there are grains of sand on the beaches at Salter Path.”

As the tow truck pulled my beloved Buick up the driveway, two squirrels watching a few feet away wore a smirk of satisfaction on their furry faces. When I yelled epithets at them, they arrogantly chattered back at me.

I share this saga to warn bird lovers that if you have squirrels on the premises as well as sunflower seeds, be careful where you store the latter.

As I contemplate an auto repair bill, I plan to lobby my legislator to introduce a bill stripping the squirrel of its title as state animal, an honor enjoyed since 1969. Any other animal, even the polecat, will make a worthy successor.

Secondly, I am contemplating storing my sunflower seed in the lockbox at my bank.

Snow: 919-836-5636 or asnow@newsobserver.com

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