HARRISBURG - Governor Ed Rendell’s decision to furlough twenty-four thousand state employees in the wake of a budget impasse is having a devastating impact on state parks, experts say.

Ranger David Corbett, an employee of the Commonwealth’s Division of Parks and Land, said all hell broke loose shortly after eleven-thirty Sunday evening. “Not five minutes after the Governor announced his decision to furlough our department, every garbage can in this park was attacked,” said Corbett. “It’s like they were waiting for the all-clear sign. I have no idea how they knew we were off the job.”

A visit to several state parks this morning confirmed Corbett’s account. At Keystone State Park , in Westmoreland County , a family of black bears was observed running through picnic groves, tipping over Port-O-Johns and flipping tables. Several raccoons, picking through trash strewn across the grass of an overgrown campground, looked up from their morning meal just long enough to make an obscene gesture to reporters.

“It is likely that radical elements in the animal community have been planning this kind of event for some time,” said Dr. Barbara Baker, of the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium. “The failure of the executive and legislative branches of state government to reach a consensus on a constitutionally mandated spending agreement by the end of the fiscal year gave them the moment they were looking for.”

A spokesman for Governor Rendell, Chuck Ardo, said the Governor has been briefed on the situation. “The Governor is asking all members of the animal kingdom across the Commonwealth to behave responsibly during these difficult times.”