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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

WTF did the squirrels go?

By Kamila Berkalieva & Naina Chhiber 

While strolling down Park Street, numerous people have been viciously assailed by rapidly falling, near-lethal acorns. Most look up, expecting to a see a rabid squirrel with blood-shot eyes malevolently guffawing at them. Yet mysteriously, all they see are mere gobs of leaves, innocently swaying in the crisp, nippy breeze. Where the f**k are the squirrels that once held such a prominent and entertaining—if mildly threatening—presence on our campus?

Naturally, we were compelled to succumb to our curiosity and conduct an experiment. On a typical summer’s day, while sitting on a bench in the Forum, we counted the number of squirrels that we saw. During that time period of 15 minutes, only five squirrels passed by.

Being first-years, we weren’t sure if this low number was typical of Grinnell, so we asked some passersby for their opinion. Biva Rajbhandari ’12 said that she has barely seen any squirrels this year and Erica Tharp ’13 agreed. “When I visited as a prospie last October, there were definitely more squirrels than this year,” Tharp said.

Squirrel affection is almost always assumed amongst Grinnell students. “Squirrels make me happy,” said Wes Phipps ’12. This close student-squirrel relationship has caused many to wonder how and why the population has decreased. Perhaps this bizarre phenomenon is due to the decrease in quality of dining hall food. Maybe the squirrels have been chased from their turf by the new surplus of rabbits on campus. Or maybe they simply decided to transfer.

Addy Najera ’10 presents a compelling alternative hypothesis. She stayed on campus over the summer, and was thus a witness to the crucial transition from an era of squirrels to a darker age of squirrel extinction. “In recent months, the squirrel has become easily stunned and incoherent as I wave a hello, which doubles as a warning,” Najera said. “Walking through campus I have found the squirrel significantly more erratic in its movements displaying fear and unpredictable zigzagging, possibly in correlation with the rise in rural Midwestern methamphetamine labs.”

Our investigation of the squirrel decline ultimately proved inconclusive, but luckily the squirrels have since slowly started to increase their campus presence—if skinnier and more volatile than ever before. New question: WTF is up with the rise in Iowa meth labs?

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