It all started innocently enough, I bought a little bird feeder this spring and began feeding the birds as the last of the snow began to melt up here in the Great White North. Some days there would be a couple dozen birds flying to and fro scooping up the cornucopia of seeds.
About three weeks into spring a baby squirrel (I affectionately named him Rocky) came onto the scene and started eating all of the bird seed and scared off most of the birds. I thought nothing much of it and continued to put the bird seed into the feeder.
In mid-May we began replacing the roof on Fortos’ Fort and all the sudden our little squirrel friend became a little more brazen. He began to “scream” in a high pitched chirp at sunrise (which is really about 4 am in the summer in Alaska) right outside my bedroom window.
In early June we could hear him running around the attic and heard a scratching noise upstairs. So much so that it alarmed the two dogs, Raegan and Bodhi, and they ran upstairs to investigate.
The days ticked by. We lived our lives and Rocky lived his. We finished the roof project in early July and thought we sealed up any holes that he might be able to use to get into the attic.
Last Saturday I headed downstairs with the two dogs in tow to let them outside. As I headed into the kitchen there was Rocky sitting on the window sill. The dogs paid little attention to him as the dashed by heading to the deck off the laundry room. Rocky didn’t even move. Over the next few minutes he was scurrying all over the kitchen and eating crumbs on the counter left from the night before.
I quickly texted my son, Tyler, and told him to come out very quietly with a sheet so we could throw it over him and take him back outside. I immediately thought of the scene in Christmas Vacation!
Rocky darted behind the stove and within minutes we could hear him chirping outside.
“This has to stop,” I quipped!
Tyler and I headed to Anchorage in search of a trap to catch Rocky. On the way down I searched the Internet and Al Gore said that they sold them at Home Depot. We arrived at the Big Box Behemoth and asked the “very nice” lady at customer service if she could help find the trap.
She began typing away on a computer old enough to be found in the Smithsonian and said there is not one trap available in the entire state of Alaska.
I found a seat and began searching the web for another location as Tyler spoke up triumphantly, “Poppy has one! Let me call him!”
You see, my father in-law Ed has everything. He shops at thrift stores like a woman does for shoes. One could say it is his obsession. He once found nine cookie sheets for $2.99 a piece and worked a deal for a buck a piece. Who needs nine cookie sheets? He doesn’t even bake (I don’t think).
Tyler got him on the phone and they began to discuss the particulars of sending the trap to us by Priority Mail on Monday when I finally found one at True Value Hardware all the way across town.
We headed over to the True Value, laid down 39 bucks and change for the trap and headed North back to Willow.
Later that evening we set up the trap after at least ten tries to make sure we were doing it right including even reading the directions.
We placed a spoonful of peanut butter with some of that tasty bird seed that Rocky had a fancy for and waited.
Within an hour Rocky was in the trap! No we didn’t catch him. The little booger was smart enough to pull the little paper plate off the tray and keep his butt out of the trap. We tried everything including Tyler trying to sneak up on him with a broom so he could reach over and close the trap while Rocky feasted.
It didn’t work. As soon as he saw Tyler, Rocky took off and headed in the trees mocking and laughing at us with his high pitched squeak.
On Sunday night we went to Plan B. Tyler rigged up an elaborate series of bungee cords (we didn’t have any rope) to the trap so he wouldn’t have to get so close to the trap when Rocky was inside. One pull on the cord and the trap would set. We tried it a few times and he continued to run off as we got close.
Last night (Monday) as Tyler and I finished up a pizza and settled in for a movie we heard the little mongrel in the kitchen. He was sitting on the stove ready to dive into the pizza box at a moments notice.
Tyler hurriedly grabbed his sheet again but Rocky split before we could catch him.
Then it hit me. Let’s put the peanut butter under the little tray so he would have to step on it to eat the tasty treat.
Low and behold this morning Rocky was trapped. I jumped up and down in my stocking feet with my arms in the air like I just won the Super Bowl and yelled for Tyler, ‘WE CAUGHT THE SQUIRREL!”
We had decided early on that we would catch and release Rocky if we trapped him. We loaded him up on the ATV and Tyler headed down the road.
Within a couple minutes I get a text on my iPhone from Tyler. It said: Ran out of gas.
Of course we didn’t have any in the gas can so I had to drive into Willow and buy a couple gallons.
I found Tyler along the Parks Highway with Rocky bouncing around in the cage. He filled up the tank and headed down the road.
Tyler released Rocky near a stream under the bridge. Such a tranquil place, far removed from anyone or houses. He should be able to live in a little squirrel paradise. Maybe he will even find Misses Rocky and they will settle down and get married. Maybe even have a couple young-in’s….
I am sure what a lot of you are thinking: Why didn’t he just get a BB gun or kill the little booger?
Its not as easy as that. You see when I was a little kid my dad and I visited Cincinnati, Ohio and he bought me this little gray stuffed animal squirrel and his name on the tag was Rocky. My mom and dad were divorced so this little toy was very dear to me. I kept him around for a long time.
Well at least until I was old enough to have girls over to my room to “study, do homework, and what-not.”
But I will assure you…If Rocky comes back to Fortos’ Fort it might just be a different story!
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- Fortos Fort: Roof Project Complete! (robertforto.wordpress.com)
- Black and red eastern gray squirrel (retrieverman.wordpress.com)