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A squirrel that is stealing American flags for its nest at the Mount Hope cemetery in Port Huron, Mich. climbs on a branch. AP Photo
A squirrel that is stealing American flags for its nest at the Mount Hope cemetery in Port Huron, Mich. climbs on a branch. AP Photo
Squirrel at cemetery wraps nest in Old Glory
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Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) -- A brazen squirrel has been grabbing small American flags placed in a cemetery and carrying them up to its nest, which now looks as if it's bedecked in bunting.

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Every Memorial Day, volunteers place the flags next to the graves of about 965 veterans buried at Mount Hope Cemetery on the city's north side. The flags were undisturbed during a Mass held Monday.

The next day, the Times Herald reported, workers at the cemetery about 55 miles northeast of Detroit noticed several wooden staffs were still in the ground, but the flags themselves had been torn off -- leaving a few scraps of red, white and blue.

Cemetery workers were stumped until the mystery unfurled in front of superintendent Ron Ceglarek's eyes. He watched a squirrel detach a flag stapled to a staff and carry it up a tree to a waiting squirrel building a nest.

Ceglarek watched it happen about a dozen times.

"He plucks them right off," Ceglarek said. "If I didn't see it, and I didn't follow the squirrel, I would have never believed it. ... It looked like he had a little bandanna in his mouth."

Red, white and blue fabric is draped over the branches around the nest, about 45 feet up a spruce tree.

Ceglarek said the cemetery normally keeps the flags at the gravesites until Flag Day on June 14, but they'll likely have to come out of the ground early this year to thwart the bushy-tailed burglar.

"Maybe they are trying to tell us it is going to be a hard winter," Ceglarek said. "Why use leaves when you can get flags?"

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