Insist the time is "long past" to make the freeloading rodents fend for themselves.
EPUBLICANS IN the House of Representatives have introduced a bill that will, according to House Speaker John Boehner, "end the decades-long practice in America of giving handouts to freeloading squirrels, with nothing expected in return. As a result of this shameless coddling, the American squirrel has clearly forgotten how to make its own way in this great country," said the Speaker.
"They've become the welfare recipients, unemployed, homeless, disabled, retired useless old people of the rodent kingdom," Boehner added.
The House bill, called "The Squirrel Freedom through Working Act," has already been backed by a majority of Republicans and a few conservative Democrats.
Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the time was "long past to make our freeloading furry friends do a little foraging on their own.
"Back in the 70s, when I was a kid," continued Mr. Cantor, "our neighborhood squirrels used to forage for acorns. Now acorns aren't good enough for them. Now it has to be muffins or banana bread, or they're not interested."
If passed as currently written, "The Squirrel Freedom through Working Act" would be implemented in two phases.
Phase I would offer "free retraining in acorn location and burial for the first six months," during which squirrels may still accept free food, "as long as the squirrel commits to at least four hours per day performing traditional squirrel-foraging activities, such as sniffing the ground, burying things any old place, and rapidly chasing competing squirrels up and down tree trunks."
"We don't want squirrels thinking they can just eat a handout and then scratch themselves for the rest of the day," explained Cantor. "That would defeat the whole purpose of retraining toward becoming a self-sufficient squirrel American."
Phase II would eliminate all handouts and concentrate on enforcement. Penalties for burying anything other than "squirrel food found only in nature" range from relocation to re-purposing.
Asked for examples of the re-purposing penalty, Mr. Cantor said, "Squirrel fricassee is a nutritious and economical alternative to chicken. It sometimes tastes a little like bananas."
© 2.10.12 Kate Heidel