Originally created 11/17/06

Reader feedback: Fur flies over Kirby columns

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Metro editor Bill Kirby received a great deal of feedback -- mostly by e-mail, some of it unsigned -- following his Nov. 12 column about shooting acorns at squirrels and his follow-up column on Nov. 14. Here is what readers had to say:


We want an apology for your shameful promoting of animal cruelty in today's "column."

There's nothing funny about injuring/killing squirrels with a

slingshot: as a matter of fact, I recently had to watch one slowly die, despite my rescue, from identical injuries from a local menace who also thought hurting animals with slingshots was fun. You set a miserable example for your kids, who I'm sure will end up in trouble with the law when their cruelty escalates.

Squirrels, like all creatures of God, are sentient beings, with families, attachments, feelings, and rights. (Where I retired from, California, they are called "wildlife." I know most Southerners are too ignorant to understand such respect.) We want an apology in print, or we will enlist local animal rights groups to protest your column/employment. And it had better not be sarcastic. (Hey, let's face it: you're no Dave Barry!) Yes, we animals rights workers are humorless because we dedicate our lives to trying to help poor creatures who have been abused. It's NOT funny work.)


I NEVER miss your column, but I cringed when I read that one! I pictured you as a laid-back guy that might spend a lazy morning on the porch with the newspaper, a cup-o-Joe, and a bag of sunflower seeds for the birds and squirrels. (I do, minus the coffee )

As for Pamela, I am a native of Augusta and since childhood (a long, long time ago ) I've taken care of sick and injured animals. Squirrels are my favorite! Yes, I'm Southern .... No, I'm not ignorant.



The lady who made such a fuss about you and your son playfully popping a few squirrels with acorns needs to get a life! Do you wonder whether she ever stomps a cockroach or a spider.

All kidding aside, I look forward to reading your column. It's a pleasure to read something more amusing than the latest squabble at the commissioners' meetings. Keep up the good work,



Aw Bill, you know we are 100 percent with you. Yeah, they are cute, but come on, squirrels are, uh, like, rodents aren't they? Been to California too many times to take anyone from there seriously. Next thing you know she'll be dissing our dogs!


All squirrels "do not go to heaven". And, people from California should stay in California. Have you never had squirrel stew? I'm sure you'd love it with a little avocado and bean sprouts on top.

Squirrels are troublesome and can destroy property. As in every species, there can be overpopulation. PLEASE call the local animal rights activist. I hope ya'll are the first ones to be mauled and brutally attacked by the vermin you are trying to save. Do you think a squirrel would think twice before it beamed an acorn at your empty head? Do you think it wouldn't take a bite out of you, given the chance? Maybe you should teach them to not cross the road and stay out of people's attics. I think you have squirrels in your head!

Leave Bill Kirby alone and get a life --- preferably in California!

Sandi in Augusta


I, too, am an animal lover and was offended by your careless attitude toward squirrels. A more humane way would be to capture them and release them in the woods. However, while I am not an ignorant Southerner as your reader indicated, I realize there is no good way to rid yourself of squirrels. They, like cockroaches, are here to stay. Shooting acorns at them will not deter them from coming to your home and could possibly injure them, particularly their eyes. Why risk inflicting the pain?

Noah took two of everything on the ark as God commanded.



Southerners & Squirrels

I have two small, very adorable and active boys who keep me very busy. I do not have the time to read the paper cover to cover, I do however make time everyday to read your article. With so many tragic events occurring around the world and in our own community, we need articles like yours to make us smile. Southerners are not ignorant, we are happy. You keep writing and I will keep smiling!

Pamela- Lighten up!!!


I do not make time for Dave Barry.



As an ignorant Southerner who has replanted countless plants dug up by long tailed rodents, I stand behind your right to try to keep them out of your property by any means at hand. A gun comes to mind. They are destructive, and I have more right to try to protect my investment in my property than they have to destroy it. Even now, every morning I have to replant several pansies dug up since the morning before. I would shoot them if I did not live in a neighborhood, I'd hate to get a neighbor instead.

Lest someone think I am an animal hater, I have always owned pets, love them and take good care of them.

I love your column, keep up the good work.



How many squirrels did you and your son kill or harm?

I, too, am an animal lover. I feed the squirrels in my yard and I swerve, if possible, to avoid hitting them if I'm in my car.

I have never understood people that intentionally want to exploit or harm animals just for entertainment or maybe to fill some void they may harbor.

I earnestly believe that you are intelligent enough to teach your child more lasting and fulfilling "hobbies".



I hope you will inform the lady (?) from California ---that's the land of quakes and flakes --- that Southerners aren't dumb because we know that a squirrel is nothing but a rat with fur, and furthermore, --- why did she come here to retire ??????

Betty M.


That lady from California should go back to her apartment complex in California and feed some of her fuzzy-tail-rat friends some of the other fruits and nuts available there. She obviously never had to deal with the avocado rats and the pocket gophers that farmers in CA have to deal with and try hard to control.


We came here from California, too, and I have to admit I am amazed at the protection that some CSRA cities-of-refuge give the fuzzy-tailed-rats (FTR) which the lady amusingly says have "families, attachments, feelings and rights."

I understand that many local city-of-refuge dwellers would love to send Pamela all their FTR families - the ones that eat their way into attics, chew up porch posts and outdoor furniture, transmit fleas and dig up the plants they don't eat. Would Pamela care to publish an address. Can't be a P.O. box though. Can you see 500 FTR's arriving at a P.O. box?

I would love to hear the responses from the writers of our Constitution or the Bill of Rights at Pamela's comments of squirrel "rights." In those days the fuzzy-tailed-rats had the right to become stew meat if the dogs didn't get to 'em first.

As for sentience, feelings and family, I truly feel sorry for Pamela if her friends and family have the feelings and sensitivity of FTRs. OBTW, since she mentioned God first, I think it OK to mention that He did not, according to the Jewish or Christian scripture at least, make FTRs in His image. Nor to the best of my knowledge did Christ die for FTRs. I suppose if she is of one of the non-Christian religions, she could be concerned that you are shooting acorns at one of her ancestors who had a less than perfect life the last time 'round. As for attachments, I've watched an FTR calmly chow down inches from one of his/her very nonsentient brethren - and from what I can see quite OK, after checking over his/her brethren, with the fact that there is now less competition for food.

Pamela, there are a lot of issues in this world with slave trade, genocide, child porn (based out of your loving, enlightened and intellectual State), starvation and disease that would be a better focus for your concern and energy. Or are those just too difficult for you to deal with? I guess it is easier and safer to vent your righteous wrath on some poor newspaper editor for pelting FTRs with acorns.

Bill, I think you, too, do have a problem, however. You are just too genteel -slingshots? - acorns? (Or perhaps you just live within the limits one of the local fuzzy-tail-rat cities-of-refuge.)

I didn't spend much time on this - just what Pamela and her FTR friends are worth.


California Coyote


Tell Pamela that we Southerners have been shooting squirrels with slingshots since she wore short britches. By the way you may not want to tell about frog gigging.


Pamela, I sincerely hope you are hungry enough to eat this can of worms you have opened.

We are deservedly humbled to have someone from California such as you in our presence. We ignorant Southerners have so much to learn from the land of fruits and nuts. The communities of Compton, East LA, and Watts have been the standard for civility and charm over the years, and we yearn to soak up this culture.

Yes, the fabled California can teach us so much that we lack in our poor ignorant lives. The Rodney King riots, the perpetual layer of smog, the rampant fires and mudslides, the San Francisco lifestyle, etc. But I digress.

So dear Pamela, we thank you again for your insightful remarks. Hopefully you have not invested too terribly much in your house or property in this woefully ignorant area. Delta is ready when you are - to take you away from this awful environment.

PS. I love squirrels. On rice.

South Augusta Reader


In response to your invitation of 14 November, I fully agree with Pamela's criticism of your apparent pride in how you recently amused yourself by harassing squirrels.

In her passion to protect animals she unfortunately, and I am sure unintentionally, provided a convenient way to disparage her feelings and concerns. To turn the dialogue from one of animal welfare to regional sniping. I refer to your selective construction of the column heading.

A few corrections are in order. I reread your column from Sunday. It says nothing about simply trying to keep the squirrels away from the house. The clear impression is that this was pure amusement at their expense. And Pamela did not say Southerners are ignorant per se. Simply that in respect of animal rights some Southerners show a certain casual disregard and thoughtlessness.

And many thoughtful Georgians pay for dedicated tags to support non game wildlife.

But consider this. The South has a relatively high percentage of Christians and evangelicals. People who strongly profess their love of God and Jesus and their devotion to the bible. Belief in creationism is very strong. You probably fall in this grouping.

So it is most puzzling that people with these beliefs would so casually amuse themselves with God's creations. Was that God's purpose in creating squirrels or robins or snakes? For the amusement of people with too much time on their hands and too little kindness in their hearts.

Yes God did provide plants and animals as necessary for our sustenance and for the maintenance of a healthy environment. But for amusement?



As your correspondent pointed out, needlessly killing little animals sets a miserable example for kids. Rather than kill them, put out some squirrel food and enjoy watching their antics. They will entertain you for hours, if you let them.



Hey Bill! I love your column; it really brightens my day, and gives me a chuckle.

About the squirrel issue, I have to agree with Pamela. Yes, I'm one of "Those" people - an animal lover, and especially a squirrel lover. I have a neighbor who was shooting squirrels with a shotgun in "my" back yard. He was a terrible shot, and one night at 11 pm I had to call my son-in-law, who is an excellent marksman, to come over and put a squirrel that couldn't be saved and was suffering terribly from my stupid neighbor's trying to kill it, out of its misery.

Here's what I think should happen. I think that you and your son both should have someone shoot both of you in the behind, from a distance so it hurts more, with either a slingshot with an acorn, a BB gun, or bow and arrow, while you're wearing only your pink boxer shorts.

You really should be ashamed!!!



I love your column and look forward to reading it every day. I do have a comment regarding 'your squirrel hunting". I am not a squirrel lover, by any means. I would never do anything to harm them. I know you and your son were not harming them, but I have to agree that I was uncomfortable reading that you two were doing such a "sport".

You asked for our opinions, and I am giving you mine. I really enjoy your column, and quite often send the jokes to my son (who is in the Army).

Take care, and please keep writing a great column (without squirrel hunting).



Bill, you are old-school. Catch up with the times. They have paint ball guns now. Each player can have different colors so you know who got which squirrel. We have full day tournaments topped off at the end with beer, a pig roast, beer and boiled peanuts.

And if Pamela is so humorless, how does she know who Dave Barry is? (By the way, I love Dave Barry and Mike Gibbons. But you come in third)



Since I am the 'someone' who wrote in last month critical of a remark about pet lovers, I feel I have the right to tell you what I think about your latest 'wildlife' detractor. While I found today's column mildly humorous, indeed, I think the Californian was serious when she wrote that helping creatures isn't funny. However, she has offended me, a true Southern Belle, with her 'Southerners are too ignorant to understand' remark. But, it would be best if you apologized, Bill...you wouldn't want the nut to be thrown back at you, albeit a California nut, in the form of a PETA protest. Some naked, blonde, caged Californian might end up at your office door...I wouldn't risk it. :)




Apropos Ms. Pamela, the squirrel lady ... you might tell her that, in my experience, a Crosman .177 caliber air rifle works a lot better than a slingshot.


An Ignorant Southerner (originally from Pa.)


Dear Bill: My laugh of the day was the letter from the humorless transplant from California.

I am not a Southerner. I came from California about 23 years ago. I had lived there for even more years. I lived in Los Angeles area, Monterey Peninsula three times and San Francisco two times. I love California but I don't find that there are any more ignorant people in the South than there are in California.

Now about the squirrels.

In all the places I lived in California I rarely saw a squirrel. I lived in rural areas as well as urban areas. Lots of deer, quail, foxes, wild pigs, but no squirrels. Therefore, if I had seen one I might have had a different attitude. Living here is living with squirrels.....lots of squirrels. Obviously this person has never had a nest built in the attic where babies were born, died and messed up the ceiling below. She has never had them steal all of the bird food and sometimes chew up the feeders or eat the food from the garden and generally make a mess. I trapped some in a legal trap and had them taken away, only to have a new group move in. They are fun to watch and it is fun to watch the little dogs try to catch them. They just run up a tree and scold the dog. This person surely knows that they are just big rodents with some intelligence and lots of perseverance. It would surprise me if an animal would die from being hit by an acorn.

I love animals and have rescued some dogs and cats but I find it difficult to love a squirrel who tries to take over my property. I admire people who help rescue animals and find homes for them, but the lady from California needs to get a life.

What do I think? I think the humorless woman from California should check the Delta schedule. There are lots on non-stop flights from Atlanta to California cities.



All squirrels should be relocated to some other state. Personally, I have a squirrel zapper that flings all such creatures off of my bird feeder and on to the ground for a moment of stunned silence. It does not kill them, but they usually don't return to the feede, either. Keep on flinging those acorns at them. And tell that lady that has an issue with you chasing squirrels away to get a life or either she can come to my house and adopt all of mine.


Re: Animal rights, etc. Alas, the poor lady who worries about squirrel families is worried because she, too, is a squirrel.


The woman who wrote in about you and your son shooting acorns at squirrels should go back to California. Her comment about Southerners being ignorant is reason enough for her to go back. Sounds like she really belongs in the "

Granola State". You know the state where if they aren't fruits and nuts, they're flakes. Don't apologize for shooting at the squirrels, even some Californians have been known to do that too. Just had to reply to her comment. Sounds like she's the ignorant one.



Mr. Kirby,

Squirrels have rights? I don't have a copy of the United States Constitution nearby but I don't remember our founding fathers specifically mentioning them in the document.

As far as her "Southerner's are ignorant" comment goes, I'd have to agree with her somewhat, especially considering the ones who relocate here from the left coast.

As for the individual who killed the squirrel with a slingshot and an acorn I think we own him an award for marksmanship and his sarcasm. Killing a squirrel with an acorn!!!! Now that's hard to top. I'd like to hire this individual and will pay him an excellent sum for each squirrel he kills with his slingshot and acorn (I keep the tails-Mepps pay 25 cents each for them). I love watching true artists at work.

Only a week since the election and the tree rats (nuts, squirrels, etc) are falling from the trees and showing their true colors. Sorry to hear they're after your job Mr. Kirby, - good luck to you. These people control both houses of Congress now and the leader of the house is from Pamela's home state - and 3rd in line for the presidency!! Maybe they can go work and offer an amendment to the constitution to get those pesky squirrels their rights! Apparently they need them. Until then, I plan to harass them as much as I can. If Pamela will offer to pay for all the damage the rodents do I promise to quit harassing them. I'll be glad to present her with a bill.

Don't look for me at the protest - I don't like to associate with 'humorless' people in search of a life. I'll be harassing the squirrels - "So many squirrels, so little time".

I'm reminded of one of Lewis Grizzard's musings. Something to the effect of 'If you don't like the way we do it, Delta is ready when you are!'

On second thought, I may be at the protest. I'll be the one serving fresh, hot squirrel stew.



Bill, sounds like this lady is a little more than a little squirrelly" herself. Is she really this concerned about the well being of SQUIRRELS? I have a few cockroaches that need protecting, too.

I am on your side 100 per cent.


Mr. Bill,

I enjoy reading your column every day. I read your 1st column on the squirrel. As far as the California lady, we already know about San Fran and what they like there. Back to the squirrels, we use a pellet gun in our neighborhood on the squirrels. We have over 20 squirrels running around our house, sometimes chewing the facial boards on the house. The hawks around the house do a better job than us ignorant Southerners. I believe my girls shooting the squirrels helps with their hand-eye coordination. Ask California lady if she has tried squirrel stew lately.

Ignorant Southerner


I have read your column for years and look forward to it - especially the jokes. I have on several occasions been inclined to voice an opinion, but, being the ignorant Southerner that I am, I've always declined to do so, lest my ignorance shine!

My response to the looney Pam would have to be - If Southerners are so dumb, why did you choose to retire in the midst of the dumbest? Delta is ready when you are - or not, which has been the case with me twice in the last month - but, that's another column.

Secondly, if Pam has nothing better to do, I would be more than happy for her to come armed with all of her "saving the squirrels" equipment and a tent, which she can pitch in my front yard in West Lake, and stay until she has rescued every plum, pear, tomato (17 varieties), blueberry, bell pepper eating squirrel she can find!!!!!!!!! And that's putting it nicely!

Now, with that off my chest, I will say that I am very fond of most of God's creatures. I am not an animal activist, and if I see a dead squirrel in the street, I don't retrieve it and give it a proper burial. I feel that is one less critter to worry about next produce season.

Seriously, I enjoy hearing about your dog, your son and your wife. I have a dog, a son and a husband - and a cat. If it weren't for them keeping our lives interesting, what would we talk about?

I think you should forget about Squirrel Nut's request for an apology - if she sics the animal rights group on you, give me a call. I have several friends who will help me go over and get her packed for her trip back to California!

Thanks for the lighthearted moments of my day.



via Rants & Raves:

This is a rant to the lady who wrote in to the Bill Kirby column saying that southerners are ignorant. Southerners aren't ignorant. We just know good food when we see it.


I just got to thinking. If we southerners are too ignorant to understand such respect for wildlife, like squirrels - which is a nuisance - why don't they take them all back to California where they have respect for 'em.


Leave Bill Kirby alone. I popped a squirrel yesterday. I popped one this morning. And if I see one tomorrow I'm going to try and pop him.


Read the column that started it all here.


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