(With all due apologies.)
Depending on your perspective, Washington, DC is either plagued or blessed by its ubiquitous squirrel community. Today’s Post ran a fun little feature on the history of this national institution, tracing the local squirrel population back to its roots in the early 20th century. Native to the area, the Eastern Gray Squirrel had been hunted out of the downtown area by the turn of the 20th century. Around this time, hunting downtown was finally banned and simultaneously, as a Post headline read at the time, “Several Pairs of Interesting Little Animals [were] Set Free Among the Trees” in Lafayette Park and the U.S. Capitol. A 1906 Congressional report found that the release of the squirrels “shows how much public interest is aroused in work of this kind.” (1906 must’ve been a slow year for Congress.) Included in this group were 18 black squirrels, native to Canada, who currently constitute approximately 20% of the DC squirrel population.
The whole piece, complete with reference to “Operation Squirrel Seduction,” is here. Squirrels seem to engender strong negative feelings in people, for reasons I’ll never understand. (It’s not as though they shit on you.)
As a friend of mine once said: “The black and gray and red ones aren’t species variations; they’re gang colors.”