THE SQUIRRELS IN Spokane’s Finch Arboretum never knew what hit them. To rid the park of some 150 bushy-tailed inhabitants—which were root-gnawing the trees to death—groundskeepers rolled out the Rodenator Pro, a long-hosed machine that pumps propane and oxygen into the squirrels’ tunnels, then sends an electric charge that explodes the furry foes and their underground lairs.

The Spokane Humane Society stepped in, gathering at the park with pamphlets and clamoring for a peaceful end to the standoff between the squirrels and park officials. “We can resolve this issue with ground squirrels humanely,” the society’s Dave Richardson later told us, which drew chuckles when we repeated it to Ed Meyer, creator of the Rodenator Pro. Not so much a tree hugger as a squirrel hater, Meyer stands by his machine’s integrity as a benign execution device. “The point they’re making,” he said of the squirrel defenders, “it’s not taken into too much consideration.”

Parks officials proceeded with the squirrel-cide, and refused to answer press inquiries. But as the dust settled over Finch Arboretum and the Rodenator Pro was hung up in the shed till next year, one media-shy groundskeeper got the final word. “They’re not squirrels,” he informed us. “They’re ground squirrels. They’re rodents!” And now they’re dead.

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