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Picture of the week: This bison was photographed during a visit to Wyoming. He seemed completely unimpressed by the Prius the photographer was driving. If you have a wildlife photograph to share, send a high resolution jpg to jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com. Courtesy of Dana and Linda Arbaugh

DEAR JOAN: I do not know if you watched Miley Cyrus perform in Times Square during the New Year's Eve celebrations. The fur coat she wore was beautiful and glorious. My interest and concern is that it was made from little white dogs that are skinned alive in China. The thought of it really upset me.

Peter Sandholdt

Alameda

DEAR PETER: I tuned in just in time to watch the ball drop, and I did see Miley in her floor-length coat. At first I was pleased to see her in a reasonable state of dress, but I wondered, too, about the coat.

Furs may be acceptable in the frozen tundra of the arctic, but Times Square? We’ve got faux fur for that.
Furs may be acceptable in the frozen tundra of the arctic, but Times Square? We've got faux fur for that. (April Saul)

I've tried to find out whether the coat was fur or faux, but I haven't gotten a conclusive answer. I thought the folks at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would know, but after promising to look into it and call me back, I haven't heard a word.

Cyrus has spoken often for her love of her dogs, and she's helped out in the ongoing effort in New York to ban the use of horse-drawn carriages. PETA also has shown its support for the singer, naming a pig for her on her 20th birthday, and awarding her a Compassionate Citizen Award.

It seems that Cyrus would have known better than to wear actual fur, but well, it seems there are a few other things she should have known better about and didn't. Earlier in December, Cyrus was criticized for appearing on stage wearing a shorter fur coat.


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Everything I've seen supports the assumption that the coat was real, and probably made from foxes rather than little white dogs. The coat was designed especially for Cyrus by The Blonds, a hot fashion design duo who also is doing some of her outfits for her Bangerz tour.

DEAR JOAN: In regard to a column you had about feeding squirrels, don't do it.

We didn't but we still had squirrels chew through the ceiling in our living room. They sounded like they were either playing marbles up there or moving furniture. They also chewed through my neighbor's roof and ceiling around the same time.

We know it was squirrels because I had my roofer, insurance guy and pest control service all come out at the same time. The roofer removed a few rows of tiles -- yes, tiles -- and the pest service said "Oh, it's squirrels," and the insurance company said, "There is no coverage for squirrel damage."

Then the pest service also said you can't poison them. Rats and mice you can. Our saving grace was that some owls moved into our tall palm trees about the same time and made short work of the pigeons that were bothering the entire neighborhood, and then the squirrels.

Thank you, owls. We now only have a couple of squirrels at a time, but have seen "our" owls raise several babies. They are beautiful to watch take flight.

The repairs were costly, to say the least. One may think they are cute, but wait until they damage your house.

Cam Reed

San Ramon

DEAR CAM: Nothing like hearing from the voice of experience. I'd just add that it may be legal to poison rats and mice, but please don't. Those wonderful owls could eat the poisoned animals and be poisoned themselves.

On a related note, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has a great website, www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild, on what not to feed. Check it out.

Contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/AskJoanMorris.