A Napa youth who insists on anonymity—let's call him "Bobby Jones"—recently performed a civic duty that suggests the next generation may not be as ecologically challenged as some suspect.
Eleven-year-old Jones went solo to the Napa County Resource Conservation District office in Napa last week to complain about a large mound of peanuts he found behind their office complex weeks ago when exploring the creek with a friend. The peanuts looked like the ones he'd seen appearing mysteriously in his backyard farther down the creek.
"I'd wondered why there were so many squirrels where I lived," says Jones, who concluded that the squirrels were living off the free peanuts. "It was a huge pile," he says. "I figured they had overpopulated from eating all the peanuts."
The feeding station bothered Jones for over a week, and he discussed possible "suspects" with his mother, who told him that the RCD was not likely the culprit, since their job was eco-educating the public.
When Jones finally got up the courage to confront the adults in the office building, he turned down his mother's offer to accompany him. He said he went alone so nobody would think any adult was "using" him. He walked the creek, pressed though a breach in the fence and climbed to the second level in the complex, where he located the RCD office.
"I asked them if they know who was putting the peanuts out," Jones told the Bohemian. The RCD staff claimed innocence and suggested Jones inquire at a professional office a few doors down. There, Jones found a woman who confessed to feeding the squirrels. Jones asked her to stop.
"The lady was nice to me," says Jones. "But I could tell she was kind of frustrated, like she wished I would go away." Jones explained to the woman that the peanuts made it too easy for the squirrels, and drew other animals like rats. Jones told the woman that if she stopped feeding the squirrels, there would "still be a lot of squirrels, but there wouldn't be so many."
Jones speculated that the peanuts bought her entertainment. "She probably just thought that squirrels are cute," muses Jones, "and that her clients would like to see cute little squirrels running around eating stuff outside the [office] window."
The woman agreed to stop feeding the squirrels if she could at least finish off the bag she'd purchased. "I said she could if she really wanted to," says Jones. "But that she probably shouldn't."
Love animals? Read the science-based reasons to avoid feeding wildlife at www.paws.org.