RIP, Gregg Basset, Ultimate Squirrel Lover

Gregg Basset, President of the Squirrel Lovers Club, passed away on October 6th, 2008. I got word that the club is now being discontinued, but his wife, Kathy Basset has left us with her number for anyone who wishes to pick the club up. Leave a comment if you’re interested.

http://www.thesquirrelloversclub.com/index.htm

More on Gregg, from his bio page:

“I’ve been an animal lover all of my life….However, there was one kind of animal I always thought was cute and very interesting, squirrels! All my life, I’d been exposed to brown fox squirrels and gray squirrels (as I’ve always lived in the Chicago area), but I did not know much about them….Then came Baldy. His story is told under Meet Baldy . For a few days it was just Baldy. Then came Frisky, Slitty, Figit, and so on. Pretty soon we switched from walnuts to peanuts because it was getting too expensive to keep feeding this growing number of squirrels walnuts. That was over six years ago. Since then, we have befriended around six dozen squirrels; some of them brown fox squirrels and some of them gray squirrels. From time to time, we lose some which are replaced by new ones that come on board. We usually have anywhere from six to fourteen around at any given time. Also, as time has gone on, both the squirrels and I have gotten braver in our relationship to where some of them chase after me, grab a hold of me, jump on me, climb on me and even take peanuts out of my mouth…”

Video: Squirrel Hero – Lovely Lita

Karen Clark, aka “Lovely Lita” in Tampa, Florida, runs a pretty cool squirrel rescue facility.

 A video of Lita at work. And a text-based story.  Her web site.

 “Clark, the founder of the not-for-profit Lovely Lita’s Sheltering Tree Foundation, discovered years ago she was a sucker for squirrels.

“I have always loved squirrels,” she said.

Her love for the critters helped make her a nominee for 2007 Animal Planet Hero of the Year. She didn’t win, but the cable and satellite TV network made her a finalist for the honor.”

Squirrel Heroes: New York City Squirrel Rehabbers

squirrely.JPG

This is “Ashley,” the big mama squirrel who lived on the roof of my building in Astoria. She spent hours running back and forth across the gigantic green ash trees that lined our street.  I always liked watching her, and if you made squeaky noises when she was around, she’d get close and watch you. (I discovered this while sitting on my patio with my dog, who I often shower with high pitched noises and coos. The clamor attracted Ashley, which is how I get this photo of her.)

I thought of her as I read this week’s issue of New York Magazine, which includes an item about the city’s nine licensed squirrel rehabbers. Apparently they take in abandoned squirrels and raise them back to health from their own apartments. Wow. That’s dedication.

As a resident of New York, I can tell you that, besides pigeons, rats and feral cats, squirrels are the only wildlife you can regularly see in the city. And, unlike all the other wildlife, they usually seem clean, healthy and thriving. Perhaps because squirrels live in trees, away from most human filth. And, even though they are surrounded by human food garbage, they still stick to a healthier diet of nuts. As a result, they neither transmit or catch many human-animal vector diseases.

Which makes them perfect for rehabilitation when a mother gets killed, or a big storm blows through the city and knocks squirrel babies out of their nests.

“Squirrels are just wonderful, intelligent, cheerful animals that want to live—unlike bunnies or birds, which always seem to want to die,” one rehabber says in the article. “They greet every day with wonderful curiosity.”

Squirrel Hero: Robert W. Gilcrease of Alaska

(Calendar6.jpg, originally uploaded by rgilcreasedatabrokers.)

In my squirrel research for this new blog, I came across a man named Robert who operates a squirrel cam in Alaska, and keeps a blog of the cam’s highlights.

Now, you might ask: Why the need for a squirrel cam? Well, this is no ordinary cam — it’s a red squirrel cam. Even more so than their gray relatives, red squirrels are nutty, smart, cantankerous and hilarious.

And they are also somewhat threatened in different parts of the world, primarily because the gray squirrel has taken over its territory.

If you’ve ever gotten to know a red squirrel — and I did this summer at my in-law’s Wisconsin cabin — you know they are special little critters, and even more entertaining than gray squirrels.

Robert has an extensive and, dare I say, breathtaking collection of red squirrel photos on his blog, web cam site and Flickr photo account: from which this photo is taken from.

Robert’s Webby stuff:
http://www.thesquirrelcam.com/index.html
http://thegreatalaskanredsquirrelcam.blogspot.com/

(I also noticed in one of this blog posts that he’s originally from South Texas. Hurrah!)