Park Slopers may be furious about the recent raccoon invasion, but the neighborhood famous for its peaceniks and organic produce consumption loves its albino squirrel.
Yes, even as raccoons continue to pester the locals, a bright white squirrel has become so beloved that at least one Sloper broke the law — the law of Nature, certainly, but also city and federal law — to save the critter from becoming another animal’s lunch in the Ninth Street playground last week.
“My husband was in the park with our son, and [the squirrel] came very close to being captured by a hawk,” one woman notified her neighbors, via the Park Slope Parents Web site.
“The squirrel probably would have been caught had the parents not thrown things at the hawk to drive it away.”
The woman admitted that she was “upset” at the people who challenged the natural order of things — and many others weighed in against the squirrel-huggers.
Only in Park Slope could a person save a beloved local mascot — then find herself tarred and feathered for interrupting the circle of life. Sure, she violated the Prime Directive, but so did Captain Kirk — and everyone loved him!
But the woman who saved Al the Albino didn’t shy away from a fight: “I was the parent throwing things at the hawk,” said the woman, who identified herself only by her nom de guerre, Suzanne.
Bowing to the neighborhood’s non-violent creed, she quickly added that she fired just “one small twig that never made it anywhere near [the hawk].” But then, her defiance continued: “I did not want to see that lovely and unusual squirrel swooped away. So many enjoy seeing the squirrel, including children who would not give a grey squirrel a second look. The hawk was certainly amazing, but looked plump and not in need of snacking on this particular squirrel.”
The audacity! The anti-Darwinism! The illegality!
Park Slope is not only a neighborhood of peace-lovers, but also one filled with lawyers. One lawyer pointed out that “harassing red-tailed hawks is forbidden under the migratory bird treaty.”
Another person added that Parks Department rules state that no person shall “molest, chase, wound, trap, hunt, shoot, throw missiles at … any animal.” That missive was signed, “Geoff, who thinks the squirrels are cute, but also enjoys seeing the red-tailed hawks do what they do best (catching squirrels).”
Still, Suzanne defended her turf: “My twig toss was meant only to distract, not to harm or harass,” she said, signing off by referring to the hottest of the hot buttons in Park Slope: last winter’s “boy’s hat” discussion.
“I hope we can end this here and go back to discussing the gender of hats,” she said.
I wasn’t ready. See, I hadn’t spotted this Moby Dick of squirrels yet, so the other day, I went in search of the elusive beast.
Turns out, he wasn’t elusive at all.
“Oh, I see him every day,” said a Parks Department worker in the Ninth Street playground. She pivoted on her heel, peered into the underbrush for less than 10 seconds, and announced: “There he is!”
And, indeed, there he was — bright white and standing out against the dead brown leaves like a bulls-eye at a rifle range. While brown and black squirrels skittered about safely in their camouflage, the Great White Squirrel practically had a sign on his back reading, “Eat me.”
So enjoy your albino mascot while you can, Park Slope. There aren’t enough twig-throwers to keep this guy safe from becoming a hawk’s in-flight meal sometime soon.
©2006 Community News Group
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