Beavers suspected in DC gnawings
The radical group BARK (Beavers Against Random Killing)
claimed responsibility for the unprovoked attack on
the cherry trees.
By John Breneman
Rangers for the U.S. Park reported a significant breakthrough
this week in their probe of the destruction of two cherry
trees in Washington D.C. They believe the unlawful tree-felling
to be the work of a beaver.
Criminal psychologists quickly developed a profile of the
suspect: single brown male, approximately 2' 10" tall
from head to rump, with penetrating brown eyes and a powerful
jaw fringed with whiskers. He is thought to possess a wide
flat tail and a blatant disregard for humans' appreciation
of the beautiful cherry trees that line the Tidal Basin in
As the drama unfolded in the shadow of the Washington Monument
this week, Park Rangers received a mysterious phone tip. A
caller identifying himself as a member of the radical anti-violence
group BARK (Beavers Against Random Killing) claimed responsibility
for the unprovoked attack on the cherry trees.
The caller -- speaking in a lisping, computer-enhanced voice
-- warned that more trees would be felled unless the Clinton
administration imposed immediate federal restrictions against
all kinds of animal traps, even the so-called "humane"
FBI officials said their dossier on BARK is sketchy, with
the only intelligence coming from an undercover agent who
has infiltrated the rodent underground.
The agent reported that BARK has been employing "botanical
terrorism" to protest everything from the NATO bombing
in Yugoslavia to the corporate use of innocent laboratory
weasels to test hair-care products and breakfast cereals.
Investigators believe the beavers are aware that cherry trees
enjoy an almost mythical status in the nation's capital, due
in part to an American folk tale in which a young George Washington
chops one down and then -- wracked with guilt -- confesses
his act with the immortal (if no longer politically relevant)
words, "I cannot tell a lie..."
Tourists reportedly have been saddened by the demise of the
cherry tree, which one biologist described as "a national
treasure." And the beavers appear to have timed their
strikes to come at the height of cherry blossom season, perhaps
to attract high-profile media attention to their cause.
President Clinton staged an emergency press conference next
to a gnawed-off stump this morning and -- biting his lower
lip to underscore the severity of the situation -- appealed
to the beavers to voluntarily end their "willful and
treasonous" cherry tree campaign.
Back to PAGE ONE
Power outage linked to squirrel terrorists
A rogue squirrel knocked out power across much of the city
early Thursday in an act of sabotage that police are calling
"a heinous and cowardly act of rodent terrorism."
The squirrel leaped into an electrical transformer at a downtown
substation shortly after 9 a.m., just as the business day
The economic impact of the brazen daylight suicide mission
is estimated at $1.2 killion as hundreds of downtown workers
were left literally powerless to do their jobs. Employees
at one local dot-com were startled to find the company no
longer existed when the electricity came back on. And several
firms provided counseling to help workers deal with the emotional
trauma of not being able to get onto their computers.
The squirrel was killed instantly and so could not be questioned
regarding his motive. But police say a group identifying itself
as the Bushy Tail Liberation Army is claiming responsibility
for the attack. The BTLA, which exploded onto the international
rodent terrorism scene when it sizzled a power transformer
outside the White House last November, scratched the following
statement into the bark of a giant oak tree near City Hall:
"We demand an immediate end to the vehicular genocide
being perpetrated against the squirrel community by our human
oppressors in their noxious SUVs."
Citing the "needless slaughter" of millions of
squirrels on our nation's roadways, the BTLA vowed that more
serious power outages would follow unless authorities complied
with their demands. These include:
-- Legislation imposing stiff fines and jail time for squashing
a squirrel in an automobile.
-- Erection of "Squirrel Crossing" signs and overpasses
at specified locations.
-- Immediate repeal of heavy tariffs on the import of exotic
European and Asian acorns.
-- Federal subsidies to stimulate trade with acorn-producing
-- And sweeping oak tree preservation measures, including
a nationwide ban on the use of oak in furniture manufacturing.
Lt. James Nutt of the police department's elite anti-rodent
terrorism unit said there is no cause for the public to be
alarmed. But he did offer several tips for homeowners concerned
that the squirrels chattering and foraging out in their yard
might be aligned with the BTLA rebels. Tell-tale signs include:
-- Squirrels congregating in groups and chattering in hushed
-- Shifty eyes.
-- Handguns and ammunition missing from your closet.
-- Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons appearing mysteriously on
If you suspect an ordinary household squirrel of engaging
in subversive activity, Nutt warned, do not attempt to subdue
the rodent yourself. They are often trained in martial arts
like Tae Akorn Do. Instead, police urge you to scamper inside
and whimper like a baby until help arrives.