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Quite a predicament

May 22, 2016
Kevin Williams - Grundy County Conservation Director , Reinbeck Courier

The year was 2010. The topic for the June 4 news column was titled "One For The Book." Perhaps you'll remember it.

I had received a call unlike any I had received in my then 30 years with the Grundy County Conservation Board. Three baby squirrels about 15 or so feet up in a tree hanging altogether as if someone had tied their tails together and draped them over the branch and dead. A long pole with a hook soon helped bring the squirrels to the ground where indeed it was true. They were all young, three-quarter grown squirrels with their tails knotted together along with what appeared to be grass or some other natural vegetation.

It appeared as though after becoming tied together, the squirrels got wrapped around the branch where they eventually died. A sad fate as you think about it. Also a pretty rare fate I ventured to say in the column. Had they gotten tangled while curled up inside a den or leaf nest? That was my guess.

Article Photos

Photo by Kevin Williams

Well, that brings us to this week's column topic. A similar story but different ending.

I had just come in the house and settled into the easy chair for a little television time. Deputy Ken Yeomans called and started out the conversation with, "I'm down here in Conrad with a wildlife predicament." He proceeded to tell me of four baby squirrels with their tails all caught together. I think he was a bit surprised that I had heard of that happening.

He asked for suggestions and the suggestion that I offered was that I pull on the boots and come over to see what I thought. I grabbed the longest, sharpest butcher knife that I use when cutting up deer and made a swing by the outbuilding to grab a wire basket it reminds me of an industrial strength bicycle basket. Where I got it I haven't the foggiest idea but I never throw anything away. This, I thought to myself would maybe work.

When I turned down Maple Street, there was the squad with Ken's smiling face greeting me. He pointed me to the mother squirrel halfway up the electric pole and four baby squirrels about two feet above the ground. It appeared two wanted to follow momma and two did not. You can quickly get the picture in your minds of four squirrels tied together and not cooperating much at all.

I told Ken to watch that mother squirrel up there and don't let her come down after me. Then I flipped the hood of the Carharrt coat up over my head. The basket worked perfectly as the young ones slipped right through different open squares, but were now trapped from going any further.

They were indeed fastened all together by a small branch of some kind. Like a skilled surgeon (lol), I knelt down and tried to pick the best spot to make the first cut. It was before I had done this, however, that one of the little guys squealed. Followed by the sound of Deputy Yeomans hitting the pole with his flashlight and "encouraging" momma to stay away.

I made the first cut and two squirrels (still tied together) darted toward a maple tree. The second cut freed the other two and they were off like bullets. Now I hurried to the maple in time to see the two still joined squirrels making their way up opposite trunks of the tree. They were six or seven feet up the tree and moving on up quickly. I reached up, then jumped and sliced between the two releasing them.

What I had thought in 2010 was a very rare occurrence had happened again only with a much different ending.



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