What is it with the squirrels in the Cheesehead State? In recent years, caretakers for at least three different Wisconsin cemeteries have fingered bushytailed bandits as their nefarious flag-filchers (try saying that three times fast!).

The most recent graveyard victimized by chattering flag thieves is the Oak Hill Cemetery in Neehah.Squirrel

Jim Romnek, commander of the Neenah Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10893, told the Appleton Post-Crescent he first suspected the flags placed on veterans’ graves for Memorial Day were taken by vandals. Upon further investigation however, the haphazard pattern of the two dozen or so missing flags—plus the fact that the wooden dowel stakes remained in the ground—didn’t reflect the handiwork of pranksters.

Luckily, groundskeeper Mark Alberts came forward to solve the mystery of the disappearing stars and stripes, saying it was common for tree-cutting crews to find flag remnants inside hollow portions of the cemetery trees.

“We find a lot of flags all shredded up in there,” he said. “(Squirrels) use them for bedding.”

Last September, I blogged (on another site) about a similar case at Forest Hill Cemetery in Eau Claire, Wis. Folks there also believed pranksters or vandals were snatching the flags–until Eau Claire Parks and Recreation Department’s Dave Ender looked up one day while cutting grass on his riding lawnmower.

“I was mowing, looked up out into the distance, and something caught my eye,” the groundskeeper said.

Ender drove his riding lawnmower to a nearby tree, where he discovered a massive red, white and blue squirrel nest.

“Those little rascals. They’re just amazing,” the groundskeeper assessed.

As Ender concluded, the squirrels in Wisconsin may indeed be rascals, but at least they’re patriotic ones.