My father, Bud, has had a vegetable garden for as many years as I can remember. One year he was particularly angry with his massive squirrel population. They were feasting daily on his garden and depriving him of even a single tiny ripe tomato. They were even nervy enough to bring them up from the garden and sit just outside the kitchen window to munch arrogantly in front of his face. There were too many to shoot and he lived in town, so he decided he was going to get rid of them humanely. He put out his traps and declared war.
We were somewhat amused as he trapped squirrels daily and relocated them to Hoffer Park, about one mile from the house. This went on for weeks, and every day he drove to the park and released squirrels there. It was becoming a full-time job. The family began to believe the squirrels were making their way back and he was catching the same creatures time after time. He argued he was not, but he must have had some doubts because after transporting about four dozen squirrels, he decided he’d find out for sure. Dad had a spray can of flourescent orange paint in the basement. He began to spray each squirrel’s tail orange before releasing them. He estimates he sprayed thirty tails.
Well, he did prove us wrong. He never once caught an orange-tailed squirrel in his trap, and we were forced to apologize for doubting him. This is not, however, the end or even the interesting part of the story. Unknown to my father, people around town began to talk widely and publicly about the orange-tailed squirrels which had appeared in Hoffer Park. People were taking their children to the park to see them. (It was just after Three Mile Island which was about two miles south. Could they have been radiated?) Finally, my dad opened the Middletown Press & Journal one week and read an article about these strange squirrels with orange tails running around Hoffer Park. There was speculation they were some new breed of squirrel, heretofore unseen and unknown. They were going to call in someone to check this out for the borough.
Before causing any more trouble, Dad called the game commission and told them he had trapped the squirrels and had spray painted them. He promised he would stop and assured them he had run out of orange paint anyway.
Now living just outside Hershey, Dad had a community of groundhogs take up residence under his back porch this year. He began trapping them about a month ago and relocating them three miles from the house. He transported number ten yesterday. His friends now want him to come and get their groundhogs. I told him I could make up business cards and he could start a new career. After all, he is only eighty-nine.