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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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As the fur flies, city misses revenue opportunity

What is it about Spokane?

Do we go looking for ways to look ridiculous to the rest of the globe?

When I left for vacation a couple weeks ago, a jury of dim bulbs had just let a drunken off-duty cop walk for shooting an unarmed citizen in the head.

Now I return all refreshed and relaxed only to find that the city of my birth is drawing national attention from exploding squirrels.

The Spokane Squirrelocide is due to something called the Rodenator Pro.

This weapon of gas destruction pumps a mixture of propane and oxygen down squirrel holes at Finch Arboretum. Much to the irritation of the parks department, the arboretum has become a destination resort for the local ground squirrel population.

Five. Four. Three …



The concussed critters succumb much the way depth-charged German U-boats did back in World War II.

As you might expect, animal welfare groups like the Humane Society are fuming.

I, too, have serious concerns.

Like why in the great name of Rocket J. Squirrel didn’t any of our city officials have the foresight to turn this into a pay-per-view TV event?

We’re in a serious recession. County unemployment is in double figures.


The Spokesman-Review has shown so many of my colleagues the door that the newsroom is now emptier than downtown Chernobyl.

Turning the city’s government access channel into a 24-hour exploding squirrel marathon would raise some serious revenue.

And it’s not like there’s anything watchable on Channel 5 anyway.

All you get is an endless parade of council meetings, commission hearings, sleep-inducing discussions on local topics …

I haven’t seen so many pasty white faces since the last time I sat through “Night of the Living Dead.”

I have other questions about the squirrel murders, too.

Nailing the little tykes while they’re underground seems so chicken-hearted.

When I was a teenager I engaged in some ground squirrel population control with my pal, Dave. We at least had the courage to look these little creatures in the eyes before blowing their cute fuzzy heads off with my .22.

Kids had so much fun in those days.

And here’s another problem: What’s left of the squirrels once they have been Rodenated?

Nothing, that’s what.

That’s a shame. If we were in Arkansas, squirrel extermination would involve cast iron kettles and dumplings.

Daniel Boone at least made furry hats out of his critter corpses.

Any guesses how this decision to roll out the Rodenator came about?

Parks Official 1: Got too many squirrels up there at Finch.

Parks Official 2: Uh, whatcha wanna do?

Parks Official 1: Well, I heard tell about a thing what ’splodes ’em.

Parks Official 2: Cool.

I could be wrong. Maybe the parks department took a more scientific approach to rodent control. Like watching that classic golfing documentary, “Caddyshack.”

Bill Murray didn’t use a Rodenator, of course. He went “old school” on his gopher foe with plastic explosives.

True, this method is not environmentally sound. But it is way more visually entertaining.

Too bad I’ve been gone. I actually have a much better and nonviolent solution for the ground squirrels of Finch Arboretum.

I say we catch them and release them back into the wilds of Spokane City Hall.

Why not? That’s where all the nuts are.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at
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