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By Mark David Blum, Esq.

I am a warrior. Strong, fast, and smart. I fight my battles with honor and give no ground to my opponents. I fight fair and do not bring a gun to a knife fight. Always my opponents are given a fighting chance. Four years now into battle and the war remains a draw.

My opponents are three. Each more cunning and alert than the other. Sometimes they come at me as a team and other times, they try their luck one at a time. They know well my limitations and manage to stay just outside my range. My enemies are as quick as they are bold; at times leaving me breathless and frustrated as I seek retribution. I donít just hate my opponents, I want to slay them horribly. But alas, they manage to elude me.

They are rats, my opponents are. Not the real rats you find in your home. No, these rats are different. They are much more than rats. They come with cute fur, adorable smiles, and even play with you if you are nice. I speak of course of marauding squirrels.

Constantly having to protect my bird feeders from theft by squirrel, I have been engaged in conflict with a family of squirrels that knows just how to play me. My hard earned money is not earmarked for squirrel food. The birds are the welcome guests. Squirrels are persona non grata.

I know that I could easily trap them, poison them, or shoot them with impunity. It may be illegal but it is a crime that like speeding, I probably wouldnít be caught. Prosecution for illegally killing a squirrel is highly unlikely. At the same time at my core, I am human and humane and searching for food is not an offense punishable by death. Rather than use deadly force, I much prefer a campaign of harassment in hopes that the squirrels would feed elsewhere and leave my bird feeders alone. Over time the hunt has turned into a game and I am not winning.

Of course, the first response to seeing a squirrel latched onto my bird feeders or even sneaking its way over, is to go charging out the door and chasing the varmint off. Over time, I have gone through at least two screen doors. Squirrels 2, Human 0. Of course in winter, I donít enjoy going outside so I just bang on the glass door or throw it open. Squirrels 1, Human 0. I had no idea glass doors were so expensive. Best way to find out just how expensive is to throw one open fast and let the handle slip from your grasp. I could hear the squirrels giggling.

At one time, I decided to up the ante and started playing with fire. It started one morning when I threw my cup of coffee in their direction. Missed by a mile. Squirrels 1, Human 0. That practice grew until I would keep pots of hot water sitting by the door so that I could throw it and have some range at the fleeing enemy. Never once did I connect. Them varmints knew exactly my range and would sit inches from the line smirking back. I hate those little shits.

From plain hot water, I moved onto mixing in chili powder and flaked chili peppers. Mixing a witches brew of flame, I would increase distance by filling a syringe and fire away. My thinking was just to get a few drops on their fur and in the process of cleaning, the heat would make think twice about coming back. It didnít work. I went so far as to take a piece of bread, pour a bunch of chili powder into the center, and then balled up the dough. I set the chili bomb outside on the patio. The squirrels ate it with glee and still came back for more seed. Squirrels 2, Human 0.

Then came the duct tape battles. I would place strips of duct tape with the sticky side up on the pathways upon which I watched the squirrels creep. My idea was that the tape would stick their fur and keep them away. Over time, strips of tape would disappear which I thought one of them took with them. For a while, they stayed away. Then they developed a new tactic; launching themselves at the feeder to knock seed to the ground and come back later to feed. Squirrels 2, Human 0. I stopped using the duct tape because frankly it was ugly to have laying around.

I have thrown rocks and various other missles; all to no avail. In wintertime, I can see their nest high in a nearby tree and dream of a Stallone-esque from-the-hip machinegun style decimation thereof. I dream of doing great violence when I lazily suckle a cigarette and stare at the enemyís encampment.

Most of the time, we just sit and stare. I stand, they sit. Perched on some branch nearby (always out of throwing range) the furry rats will just sit and watch me as I watch them. We look and neither moves. Sizing each other up, I know I can do them no harm. They know that I know and giggle quietly to themselves. While I fantasize about using a sling shot or paintball gun, they await the moment they can fill their tummies on seed. Maybe I can borrow a friend's cat and leash it to the feeders.

What infuriates me most is how I know they know I can do them no harm. Knowing my range and my weapons limitations, I am not only mocked but at times even ignored. Even when tails twitch signalling others of danger some part of me is aware they know there is no real threat. That is the harshest part of this epic battle. Accepting the reality that I am but an obstacle and not in any real sense, a risk, the squirrels are relentless in their efforts. They come at me from one direction, then another. Attacking both high and low, I can only fend them off when I see them. More often than not, I do not know of their presence until it is too late. They ransacked the bounty and filled their bellies.

Squirrels may be winning the day, but they will not win the war. I remain ever vigilant over my cherished bird feeders. They are the Flag of the home team and no marauder is going to disrupt that. Those fur covered rats shall not prevail. Make no mistake however, they drew first blood.

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It is always a far better thing
to have peace than to be right.
But, when it is not,
or when all else fails

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MARK DAVID BLUM
P.O. Box 82
Manlius, New York 13104
Telephone: 315.420.9989
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E-mail: mdb@markblum.com

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