Eco-Friendly Pest Control: Squirrel Stew?

At first I thought the squirrels were pretty cute running through my backyard and leaping from branch to branch. They entertained my dog to no end, too. Then I saw them nibbling on my newly planted garden. And stealing bird food. And leaving a mess in the eaves. How annoying! Still, one solution never even occurred to me: eating them for dinner. I once interviewed a family with several organic gardens — which they relied on for fresh produce — that for years had been ravaged by squirrels. The husband told me he'd finally "gone all Caddy Shack on them." I think you know what that means. I didn't even ask what he did with them afterwards.

Then, a couple of months ago, I read about a Seattle woman, Melany Vorass, who took the city's obsession with locavore to a new level. After attempting, with little success, to "repatriate" the squirrels that were wreaking havoc on her house and yard, she realized she'd have to exterminate them.

When she found a recipe for squirrel in her copy of the Joy of Cooking, Vorass decided that if she had to kill the pesky critters, she would also eat them. Risotto di rodentia, anyone? Squirrel supposedly tastes like rabbit, and Vorass details the butchering and safely preparing of the animal on her blog. Feeling squeamish? True, squirrels are cute, but so are pigs and cows.

Apparently, in England, where the nonnative gray squirrel has overtaken the habitat of the indigenous red squirrel, a slogan urges citizens to "Save a red, eat a gray!" Even some of London's finest restaurants have it on the menu. And it shows up in old American cookbooks, too, as it was a readily available source of protein pre-industrialization.

Personally, I'm torn. I can't decide if it's an eco-friendly alternative to pest control or if it's cruel. (Vorass drowns the squirrels, which she says is more pleasant than death by predator.) For now, I plan to put up some chicken wire around my veggies and let the squirrels have the run of my yard. I'm grateful my dog isn't fast enough to catch them and tear them to pieces.

What do you think? Have you ever had to use pest control on squirrels? Would you consider trapping and eating them instead?

Image: Shutterstock

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