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spectr17
10-18-2003, 01:18 AM
Septuagenarian squirrel assassin draws fire from neighbors, PETA

By JOHN DOHERTY, Standard-Times staff writer

October 10, 2003

FAIRHAVEN MA- Anita Hawkins' bloody reign on Main Street began about three years ago, when the trim and tan sophisticate was 75 years old.

A neighbor left bread out for neighborhood squirrels, setting off an invasion.

Soon, there were great hordes of the gray-furred rodents, said Mrs. Hawkins, marauding gangs of squirrels who scampered over her garage, leaped into her yard, robbed her bird feeders and clawed along the very walls of the Thomas Delano House -- circa 1790 -- which she has called home for more than a decade when she and her husband are not at their other residence on the island of St. Thomas.

And so she began to kill them.

She set traps for them -- Havahart brand traps -- and caught them by the hundreds.

Then she drowned them in a green plastic trash barrel out back she had filled with water for that very purpose.

"It snuffs them right out," she declared of the water treatment. "I called an exterminator and that's what they say they do. They call it 'teaching them to swim.'"

She bought a pair of Daisy air rifle pellet guns and soon she became an enviable shot. She dispatched squirrels with shots through the bars of her traps and she has potted them in her small back yard.

She has even plinked them off from the upper windows of the impeccable Delano house itself, where the oak and pine furniture is dustless, the leather chairs tasteful, reserved.

"I was just popping one off right now," she said yesterday afternoon. "I gave him his final adios."

By her own count, Mrs. Hawkins has "taken care of" exactly 667 gray squirrels in the three years she's been at it.

"I got pretty good at it," she said simply. "I just couldn't stop."

Yesterday, the national animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wrote a letter urging the Fairhaven police to charge Mrs. Hawkins with animal cruelty.

"There's nothing in the law to prevent her from killing an animal that's a threat to her property," conceded PETA wildlife biologist Stephanie Boyles. "But that's clearly not why she's doing it. She's doing it for fun. The body count is just way too high."

Her preferred method of killing -- drowning -- is inhumane, claims PETA, and results in a slow, agonizing death for the animals. Also, BB guns often only wound animals, leaving them to die over time.

Police Chief Gary Souza could not be reached for comment yesterday. But police are aware of the situation and have been called on at least two occasions to broker truces between Mrs. Hawkins and her next-door neighbors over the squirrel issue.

Mrs. Hawkins was embarrassed yesterday over all the attention about the squirrels, and said it boiled down to a dispute with the same neighbors who reported her to PETA.

PETA confirmed yesterday that the next-door neighbors indeed asked for assistance from the animal rights group.

Those neighbors could not be reached for comment yesterday and did not answer a reporter's knock on their door.

If the flap over the squirrels is strange, the neighborhood hosting it is a study in contrast.

Lower Main street is situated just outside Fairhaven Center, where the stately granite Library, Unitarian Church and Town Hall are a postcard tribute to 19th-century benefactor Henry Huttleston Rogers.

Through the spaces between homes one can glimpse the city of New Bedford across the harbor, half a world away, with its ships, smokestacks and problems.

Half the close-set houses on lower Main Street are of the Delano House variety: modest but venerable, lovingly restored antique homes straight out of a picture book. The other half are three-story affairs, chopped into apartments, and a little worse for the wear, like Mrs. Hawkins' neighbors'.

The Delano House occupants must often suffer the sound of a portable generator revving for hours next door, said Mrs. Hawkins' son George Jr.
"She's a trouble maker," she said of her neighbors. "He's a beatnik type."

PETA's plan to stop the slaughter on Main Street by bringing attention to it seemed to have worked by yesterday afternoon.

Mrs. Hawkins, whose husband is a retired yacht broker who organizes boat shows now, said yesterday she was done with all the squirrel killing.

"I became a little obsessed, I guess," she said. "It's just not worth it. I have more important things to do."

Ms. Boyles of PETA said her organization wants legal action against Mrs. Hawkins, even if she has stopped.

"I hope she keeps her word that she's (finished)," said Ms. Boyles. "But I want her punished for what she's already done."

end article

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<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE </div>
By her own count, Mrs. Hawkins has "taken care of" exactly 667 gray squirrels in the three years she&#39;s been at it.###[/b]

Dayum, she&#39;s got me beat.

skipnoid
10-18-2003, 06:37 AM
Sounds like my kind of girl!

MBullism
10-18-2003, 06:43 AM
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE </div>
"It snuffs them right out," ... They call it &#39;teaching them to swim.&#39;"[/b]

Go get&#39;em Granny! With all due..ahem.."respect"..for the folks at PETA- anywhere you can bag 667 squirrels in one place within three years there has to be a problem. More like an infestation. I&#39;d say it was self defense! Back in my younger squirrel hunting days we had honeyholes that always produced, but I&#39;d never dream of taking 222 1/3 squirrels a year out of them!

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6 times three, carry the one... That&#39;s .609 squirrels a day, everyday for three full years straight! If the Red Sox could hit that as a team the&#39;d be invincible, LOL