Squirrel law on campus decoded
October 11, 2012
A reoccurring topic of conversation among students is about there being a “Squirrel Law” on campus. A ban on chasing squirrels. Many of you have likely been warned sternly by your friends not to chase squirrels or else be fined.
Ladies, have you ever looked at your hair straightener and saw the warning, “For external use only?” Some of us would quickly respond, “duh,” but the rest of us would question, “What moron used this internally so this label had to be created?!”
So what pioneer squirrel head hunter or mercenary made this law necessary?
Typically laws begin with a precedent. So what squirrel-chaser kept the rest of us from squirrel-chasing ourselves? Not that we’d squirrel-chase, but what if one stole my art project comprised entirely of nuts? I might trot over to one at that point, politely ask for it back and offer to buy it lunch. So where did this all begin?
A few students told me their theories. Casey Doten said, “I heard people used to catch them for homecoming and paint them red.” Ashley Sheedy said, “I heard that people killed them, dressed them up and put them all over campus.”
Samantha Fictum said, “I heard that, once, someone would walk their dog on campus and let their dog chase squirrels and, like, kill them and such. Now, no dogs or people are allowed to harm the squirrels.”
Out of everyone questioned in person or on the Rachel Responds Facebook page, Tyler John was the only one to think that the law is a myth.
If the law is a myth then my potential artsy nut project problem is solved. To get to the bottom of this law, I spoke with University Police Officer David Kuether.
When asked about the law, he said there is not a specific law about “chasing squirrels.” But you still can’t.
The actual act of terrorizing squirrels would fall under State Law 18.06. Section 2 of this law says, “Prohibited Acts; Wildlife. No person may remove, destroy or molest any bird, animal or fish life within the boundaries of University lands except as authorized by the Chief Administrative Officer or except when this provision conflicts with a special order of the Department of Natural Resources.”
The fine for violating the law is $200.50. Kuether, who has served as a University police officer since 1983, said this law has existed and been upheld as long as he has been on campus.
To his recollection there is no incident that called this law into creation. Kuether thinks the law is a good one as it protects the wildlife from outrageous acts – an important cause. He said, “Why would anyone get it in their head that it is good to do [violent acts to animals]?”
So what caused this law to begin? Kuether isn’t sure, however, he says that rumors about how it began aren’t too farfetched.
Some outrageous things have happened on campus. In the 1908, an unknown, and never discovered, person killed many small animals and hung their carcasses from the trees on campus.
In the 80s a football team was cited and fined under the 18.06 statute when they made a game out of hitting squirrels with their footballs.
If you’re worried that yelling ‘boo’ to a squirrel is punishable, don’t be. Kuether recognizes the difference between intending to harm an animal or not.
However, actual torture won’t be overlooked, such as catching and harming an animal or, I’d argue, forcing it to watch “16 & Pregnant” on MTV.
Rachel Woodman is a senior majoring in marketing communications and minoring in journalism. She loves to work hard, play hard, and use clichés! Look for her Facebook page “Rachel Responds” and email her your questions or topic ideas to QuestionsForRachel@live.com.