Sarasota News Leader

03/01/2013

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ASK OTUS MR. SQUIRREL GOES TO WASHINGTON Dear Readers, My contemplations this quiet, clear, starlit night focus on one of nature���s most controversial figures; one that has the love and hate of hoi polloi as well as those sentiments of our nation���s highest authorities, our U.S. presidents; and one that has caused people to spend untold dollars in advocating or eradicating it, thereby overfilling the coffers of industries devoted to its nourishment or its eradication. Is it a D.C. lobbyist? Well, no. But it is every bit as squirrely as one. In fact, it is the flea-infested tree rat, aka the Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), which has left its imprint over urban and suburban Florida. Sciurus c. is a rambunctious arboreal rodent that tears up and down tree limbs, thoughtlessly knocking over anything in its path (including Eastern Screech Owls), all in hot pursuit of a female in heat with which it can mate and breed twice a year and produce lots more rambunctious flea-infested tree rodents. In determining its popularity or unpopularity, I shall rely on John Q. Public���s opinion here. As squirrels fall under the aegis of powerful politicians, I shall tread carefully and compose a fair questionnaire. A Painted Bunting. Photo courtesy of Rick Greenspun

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