Meth, drug paraphernalia, body armor and a squirrel: That’s what Limestone County, Alabama, Sheriff’s Office narcotics investigators found when they executed a search warrant on a local home. And it wasn’t just any squirrel. “Prior to the search warrant, investigators were informed that Mickey Paulk kept an ‘attack squirrel’ inside his apartment, and that Paulk fed the squirrel meth to keep it aggressive,” the agency said in a statement.
After an animal control deputy took the caged beast into custody without incident, they contacted the Alabama Game and Fish Division of the Department of Conservation, which confirmed that it’s illegal to possess a pet squirrel and recommended freeing it. With “no safe way to test the squirrel for meth” (a motto that should be emblazoned on a new state seal, Alabamans joked on Twitter), the department released it back into nature nearby. “It ran into the woods and did not attack the deputies who released it,” a Facebook update said.
Not surprisingly, the drug-fueled attack-squirrel story made national headlines overnight, but the plot only thickened after that. Paulk hadn’t been home when the search warrant was executed, so law enforcement launched a manhunt — and because this is how we do things in 2019, the suspect wanted on drugs and weapons charges took to Facebook to defend his squirrel. In a posted video that showed him cuddling the rodent, Paulk claimed that he had returned to the home (where he denied living) after the raid, “pulled up and whistled,” and the squirrel scampered down from a tree and hopped onto his shoulder.
In the video and a subsequent phone interview with the Associated Press, Paulk said he’d had the squirrel, dubbed “Deez Nutz,” since it fell from a tree when it was hours old. After bottle-feeding it, litter-box training it and raising it “like it was my own,” he was outraged that the domesticated animal had been left to fend for itself in the wild. He clarified semi-reassuringly, “He is an asshole. He’s a mean motherf—er, no doubt. But he’s not a trained attack squirrel, and he’s not on meth, I’m pretty sure. Better not find out he’s on meth, anyway. I don’t think he likes that s—.”
Paulk, who also claimed the charges against him were “just as bogus as the squirrel doing meth,” said he was working with an attorney and planned to turn himself in to authorities once he had tied up “some loose ends,” including getting the squirrel to a temporary home. Officials, however, were skeptical. Limestone Sheriff’s Office spokesman Stephen Young confirmed to AP that it was indeed Paulk in the video, but stressed that there was no way to be sure the squirrel was the same one deputies had seized and released.
“We don’t know if he might even have two squirrels,” he said. “It would just be speculation.”
Regardless, after a two-week search, law enforcement found Paulk holed up in a hotel and arrested him after he attempted to flee on a stolen motorcycle, which he crashed into an investigator’s vehicle after a brief pursuit. He faces charges including receiving stolen property, attempting to elude, criminal mischief and felon in possession of a pistol, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia … and illegal possession of wildlife.
Deez Nutz apparently remains unaccounted for.