Cleaning up the property and removing cut and fallen branches for compositing is an inevitable and constant process; however, sometimes the monotony is broken up by something surprising, an urban monster! While doing the summer cleaning I happened upon huge rips and vicious tears in an innocent cedar tree on the edge of our farm. The clawing started four feet up and stretched to a staggering seven foot!
As unlikely as it sounds to find a large animal on an urban farm, I couldn’t deny the piles of shredded bark stripped from the tree and strewn across the grass like fallen toothpicks. Worried and a little concerned for our dogs I continued the cleanup and found another sign, a large scat outside of our fenced-in yard and near our trash cans. We do have the occasional Fisher (AKA-Fisher Cat) who frequents the area, but this sizable, smelly mass seemed huge compared to what we had seen before.
Our dogs can take care of themselves, but I couldn’t help but worry about them tangling with a large cat or a black bear, so with a strong desire to find out what animal was out there I poured over hours of security camera footage. Luckily, we had a camera pointed right at the very tree which had been savaged by the animal. Starting with the night time footage, I poured over endless hours with no discernible monster to be found. In desperation and thinking that there was no way a colossal monster cat or bear would be hanging around in broad daylight on a 100-degree day, I started looking through the daytime footage.
Focusing on the shredded bark laying on the ground I finally found the time when it appeared like magic, apparently stripping itself off the tree of its own accord… What was this monster that was invisible to cameras with a taste for cedar bark? Knowing that bark doesn’t strip itself off a tree and setting aside the possibility of a 6-foot invisible cat for a moment, I reversed the video frame by frame and low and behold, I saw it… a huge BUSHY tail!
With a dramatic swish, the tail was on gone in a flash! My heart pounding, I skipped back a few more frames and suspended in midair was, the beast! A giant, bushy-tailed, grey monster! Well as much as you can call a grey squirrel a monster anyway. To our aggrieved cedar tree, I’m sure it was a monster.
You learn something new every day, and with a quick Google, I learned that grey squirrels occasionally (and for reasons not known to any being), strip bark off trees in long thin strips leaving marks reminiscent of a Black bear or large cat scratchings.
Who knows what injustice our poor tree did to the squirrel, or maybe it was just angry at our dogs continually chasing it into that very tree, but one thing is for certain, I’ll never assume I know everything about nature or the fantastic beasts which live in it. Maybe one day I will even find an actual invisible, bark stripping monster!