//photo.itc.nps.gov/storage/images/romo/romo-Full.00004.html All wild creatures, whether great or small, have the potential to create difficulties for people, especially if you try to feed them or get too close in your quest for that “perfect” vacation photo. A good example is a frustrated tourist who wanted to take a picture of a ground squirrel in Glacier National Park in Montana. The animal would poke its head in and out of its den in the rocks, but never fully emerge for a good shot.

Perhaps this gentleman was a fisherman, which would help explain what happened next. In what probably seemed like a good idea at the time, the photographer decided to tie his car keys onto the end of a piece of string and dangle them in front of the den’s opening, hoping to draw the squirrel out into the open. If a lure works for fish, why not for this animal?

Waving something bright and jangly in front of the family cat–or a baby–may be a great way to get a cute photo at home, but this strategy took an unexpected turn out in the wild. The keys achieved the desired result of getting the squirrel’s attention, but the man didn’t expect it to literally “take the bait,” so he didn’t have a good grip on his end of the string. The animal bolted from its den, snatched the keys, and quickly darted back underground, prize firmly in tow! All subsequent attempts to retrieve the “lure” were unsuccessful.

Bowman Lake, Glacier National Park, NPS PhotoAn extra set of car keys was not on hand, which definitely qualified this as a Melancholy Situation. I can vouch from my years of working at Glacier that it is many a mile to the nearest locksmith, so the cost of having a replacement set of keys made was undoubtedly an expensive lesson.

Here’s a free investment tip for you: If you’re looking for a good business opportunity, see if there is a locksmith in the vicinity of any large park or other recreation area. People manage to find countless-and innovative-ways to lose their car keys in the Great Outdoors, but having them heisted by a ground squirrel ranks pretty high on the “sure wish I hadn’t done that” scale.

Although I wouldn’t recommend his approach, the best advice I could give to anyone considering using car keys–or any other valuables–as a lure would be to “get a grip!”

Jim Burnett


Life – it’s an adventure…. Find something to smile about today!

Excerpted from the book Hey Ranger 2 © 2007 by Jim Burnett & Taylor Trade Publishing, used by permission.

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  1. Timothy

    Great story!! Squirrels can be very interesting characters. Last summer I watched them in my back yard carry on as Ive never seen before. Then as Ive never witnessed, I saw a mama carrying her baby back to the nest. Before long 3 hand sized babies began their quest and the wild spring mystery was revealed. This year mama has picked the only stand alone tree in my yard, and has been hard at work building her nest. Interestingly, the only way to this tree is the ground. Shes one smart critter, Id say. Obviously, last yrs drama was enough for her. The key story is one never forgotten, also one great analogy for other things !!Timothy

  2. Great story. I could just visualize this and got a good chuckle!