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St. Olaf sentiments: March 17, 2017

For the past three years I have tracked the comings and goings of numerous groups of wildlife on campus, from flocks of friendly geese to the ungodly large carp that used to lurk the natural land’s waterways by means of subterranean cave systems largely unknown to the average student. Yet even the mighty carp, with his strong tailfins and cold eyes, couldn’t manage to stay long, and the geese, whose presence set the student body into frenzy last spring, disappeared into the unknown without a trace. My theories are many, but I find it suspicious that Regents’ collection of taxidermy continues to host more and more specimens that look strangely similar to creatures that once walked the Hill as our friends. Don’t believe me? Go take a look at the stuffed geese in the science building and tell me their dead smiles aren’t the very same ones that used to smile back at you as you walked to class. And if the geese weren’t snatched up by barbaric biology students, there is no doubt that the birds were used as a substitute for the Ferndale turkey, let alone some of the more meat-heavy soups and stews. As for the carp, I can only assume it died of old age or was used for the Caf’s stickless corndogs (where the sticks disappear is anybody’s guess).

Yet one animal has always maintained a presence on the Hill, and has for the most part thrived beyond expectation: squirrels, often seen digging through our trashcans for scraps. The campus squirrels are seemingly timeless, and their numbers seem to have grown to a point where it is doubtful they can be dethroned from their lofty perch.

But a few months ago this changed with the arrival of a hawk on campus, who made its intentions clear, having devoured copious amounts of squirrel meat in a matter of weeks. When it first arrived, the bird made a spectacle outside Boe Chapel when it feasted on its first victim in broad daylight, much to the delight of the random passerby. This attack, having drawn a crowd of at least 45 individuals, was soon known campus wide, sending shockwaves through our community and affirming my belief that the squirrels’ time here on the Hill is soon to be over. It would appear that one or the other must go, a conclusion most bird experts would agree on, because as it’s well known, hawks, eagles and other raptors, being solitary and often aggressive creatures, give no quarter when it comes to cohabitation with small mammals.

It’s certainly possible to save the squirrels from their imminent downfall, and there is enough evidence to charge the hawk with reckless behavior. In fact, having eaten countless families of squirrels, the hawk sits on a slippery slope when it comes to traditional bird law, for as Charlie Kelley famously concluded, “In bird law, it’s three strikes and you’re out … bye-bye birdie.” Yet regardless of what violations of the law the campus hawk has committed, administration refrains from making any judgements, let alone responses, when it comes to matters such as these. I fear the age of the campus squirrel has come to a sudden and bloody end, heralding the coming of the age of predatory birds. I, for one, will welcome this change with open arms, as the potential benefits of having copious amounts of birds of prey on campus far outweigh the services and comforts brought to us by mere squirrels.

In a few months our furry little friends will be nothing more than old memories, and the trees, instead of being filled with the chattering of woodland critters, will be filled to the brim with the squawks and screeches of raptorial birds.