Monday smiles – Nutkin the squirrel

Today’s post was brought to my attention by It is an appeal involving the keeping of a squirrel as a family pet, in Pennsylvania, USA.

You can find the whole opinion here, but I’ve selected a few highlights below. This is authentic, by the way, as you will see from the opinion published in the official record. Judge Hudock clearly has a great sense of humo(u)r…

“This appeal revolves around the life and times of Nutkin the squirrel.

Nutkin’s early life was spent in the state of ferrae naturae, in the state of South Carolina, and, as far as we can tell, in a state of contentment. She apparently had plenty of nuts to eat and trees to climb, and her male friends, while not particularly handsome, did have nice personalities. Life was good.

Then one day tragedy struck: Nutkin fell from her tree nest!

But fate was kind. Nutkin was found and adopted by Appellant and her husband who, at that time, were residents of South Carolina. Appellant lovingly nursed Nutkin back to health, and Nutkin became the family pet.  Life was good again.

Nutkin’s captivity and domestication were perfectly legal in South Carolina, possibly a reflection of that state’s long tradition of hospitality to all.

In 1994, Appellant and her husband moved to Pennsylvania and brought Nutkin with them. Life was full of promise.

Dark clouds began to gather, however, in November, 2002, when Appellant’s husband phoned the Pennsylvania Game Commission concerning a hunter who he and Appellant believed was hunting near an area on their property where they had set out food for deer. In response to that complaint, a Wildlife Officer appeared at Appellant’s property to investigate.

The Officer […] advised Appellant that it was a violation of the law to keep Nutkin in this manner.

The Game Officer acknowledged that the squirrel was too old and too tame to be released to the wild (A situation akin to that of an old appellate judge, like the undersigned, attempting to return to the boiling cauldron of the trial court after being tamed by years of peace and quiet above the fray. Chances of survival of both species are poor.)

He offered to forgo citing Appellant if she would relinquish Nutkin to his control. Appellant and her husband refused.

Nutkin would then learn the shocking truth that the cheery Pennsylvania slogan “You’ve got a friend in Pennsylvania” did not apply to four-legged critters like Nutkin.

On December 2, 2002, the Wildlife Conservation Officer issued a citation directed to Appellant’s husband for violating section 2307(a) of the Game and Wildlife Code, entitled “Unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife”…

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