You’re running late. It’s raining, and guess what? You forgot your umbrella. Then, you realize you have an exam in 10 minutes you haven’t studied for . On top of all this madness, there’s a sinister black squirrel sitting in a tree throwing acorns at you. “Not again,” you say in your head. Completely defenseless and unarmed, you try to run away from the snarky squirrel who seems to have an unlimited supply of nuts.
It seems the squirrels on this campus take pride in taunting students or anyone who crosses their path. Understood by most, the black squirrel is nothing to be messed with. These creatures aren’t as unique and secluded to Kent as many people think. They can be found in a few Midwestern states, Canada, parts of Northeastern states and Britain. Being a subgroup of the gray squirrel, it seems they suffer an identity crisis, which would explain the things they do to get noticed. Several of my friends have told me about squirrels trying to enter buildings, throwing random objects at them and sometimes even chasing them. For my readers who don’t attend this university, I cannot express how much these squirrels love to mess with us.
Photo by Andrea Noall.
Personally, I experience a black squirrel’s wrath on a regular basis. For instance, I usually encounter the snobbish squirrel right before I enter my dorm. Deep inside, I believe there is one squirrel who knows my daily schedule just so it can pester me on my way back to my room. Just like that typical mean girl in high school, this squirrel goes out of its way to harass me. In a normal scenario, the animal would scurry away as I would walk closer to it, but that’s not necessarily true when it comes to the black squirrel. Almost every day, the squirrel stands right in front of the entrance to my dorm. I slow down as I approach the door in the hopes the stuck-up animal moves, but it doesn’t. Finally, we’re toe-to-toe and it casually walks away with its head held high as if I interrupted its day.
So why do we have these black squirrels? Long story short, in February 1961 two important guys, Larry Woodell and “Biff” Staples, affiliated with Kent State imported 10 black squirrels from Canada. Woodell liked the squirrels because of their unique color when he first saw them in Chardon, Ohio. That population died off, but when Staples found more in Canada, the two decided to bring them to Kent. “Operation Black Squirrel” consisted of correspondence from the United States and Canadian governments because of the difficulty transporting the animals. After six months of awaiting approval, the pair drove up to Ontario in a station wagon to pick up 10 squirrels that were captured by Canadian wildlife authorities. Woodell and Staples completed “Operation Black Squirrel” by bringing them to campus and letting them run free.
Since then, it seem the squirrels have set themselves on a high pedestal. The black squirrel carries a sense of entitlement and prestige that is definitely noticeable. You would think because they’ve been here since 1961, they would be like a middle-aged person who is established, content and completely satisfied with life. This is not so. We even honor them in things like the Black Squirrel Festival or Black Squirrel Radio; you’d expect them to be a little nicer. I guess they just like to return the favor by chucking acorns, chasing folks and popping out of nowhere when people are on an innocent stroll to Eastway.
No matter how much we might dislike the black squirrel, it will remain on this campus. Unless a huge group of hawks, owls or snakes pay Kent State a visit (which I doubt). The quicker we realize the squirrels are here to stay, the easier our lives will be walking to and from class.