No squirrels!

alan haighMarch 16, 2013

Usually squirrel activity becomes frantic on warmer March days. Admittedly there haven't been many days getting into the 50's, but it is extraordinary that I haven't seen a single squirrel since Dec. The absence is apparent at most sites I've been to recently.

I'm guessing that 2 years of failed acorn crop may have decimated the local population. The only fear is that there will be no crop until next Sept so any survivors will be after green peaches and pears with a vengeance.

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windfall_rob(vt4)

Yes but all your predators (especialy the migrant birds of prey) will be chasing them down in desperation.....(hopefully?)

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 3:08PM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

Very interesting. Perhaps it is the lack of food.. My weather been very similar to yours, and man let me tell you, i have the flip side of your situation, squirrels galore!

Good luck,

Joe

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 3:14PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Interesting, perhaps you're OK.....they might be just doing fine in their favored foods of nuts and seeds and get by with this alone since the population is down?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 4:01PM
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alan haigh

No, the only way they survived winter is if they are in hibernation. The level of hunger this fall for all wildlife that eat similar food as squirrels was readily apparent. I've seen lean years before but this was the worse I've ever seen.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 4:44PM
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mrsg47(7)

Tree squirrels do not hibernate. Mrs. G

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 5:29PM
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rehabbingisgreen

I wish I had no squirrels. Last year I had a first crop of peaches and asian pears and the squirrels took every last piece of fruit :( This year I'll wage war.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 5:29PM
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glib(5.5)

Here, after a very dry spring and summer, a rainy August triggered a surprisingly large acorn crop. Squirrels galore right now, they have been out and about all winter, and they look fat, it seems to me that they are already fighting for territory and mates. I turned a compost pile last week end, it had several pounds of acorn shells mixed in.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 5:31PM
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alan haigh

I know squirrels don't hibernate in the normal def of the word but they might not come out at a time when there isn't any food as they linger near death from starvation, saving calories by limiting motion. Not that expert on the issue.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 5:42PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I've seen a few now and then. I wish mine would all die and never comeback. I've got a present for them this year when they do start taking notice to the apples and peaches.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 5:56PM
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mrsg47(7)

H-man you're too funny. I have really pared back my population of squirrels. I know there will be more however. Mrs. G

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 5:57PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Harvestman,

I could ship you up a few if you want.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 6:20PM
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alan haigh

Thanks BR but I think I'll wait for them to migrate back up from the Bronx. I know they'll be back but I'm just hoping for a respite after last year. They almost broke me in spite of all my tricks. Half my customers lost all or most of their fruit- and I lost a couple of them.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 7:34PM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

How do you guys protect your fruits from squirrels?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 8:22PM
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bberry_gw

Squirrels may have a population decline from a couple of things but it will not be lack of food. They often stay out of sight if it is mating season or the females may be nested up giving birth. We noticed a recent year with far fewer around and we found the reason was several martins moved into the area. Fishers will also prey on them. It was almost a year before we saw the population back to normal. Consistant hunting pressure will also be good control. Lack of apparent food will not be a good control. They will simply substitute other food items for nuts. I recently saw them cutting maple tips and then eating the bark from them.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 8:30PM
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ravenh2001

I'm with Bamboo on this one. I only have the small red squirrels but I think I can send about 12 to a box.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 8:45PM
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Noogy(6 sw mi)

Show me the fur! After doing some naturalistic observation this fall during deer hunting I'm convinced they're still lurking, munching on the corn the deer hunters left. I hunted all the way 'till Dec 31 and recall seeing them active between sunrise and a half hour later, and brief periods during midday and dusk during part of november and december. I remember counting up to 8 at one time. Put your camo on, load the 10/22 and sit out there motionless and listen.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 8:47PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Far as how to handle them? CCI .22 quiets.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 8:56PM
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Noogy(6 sw mi)

Mini-mag HP

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 9:00PM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

No what do you do, net your trees so animals don't get the crop or what?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 10:13PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I have very few squirrels this spring. Last year was a really bad year with squirrels coming out of the woodwork so I feel I am owed a year of respite.

Raw nature, I trap them with Kania traps. Netting is too much work if you have hundreds of trees. If you only have a couple trees baffles can work well. Search this forum for many older threads on squirrel control.

Scott

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 10:51PM
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mrsg47(7)

12 gauge benelli

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 11:06PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Yeah...netting sucks if you have a few trees. I net my sweet cherries (birds) and that is enough work, especially when the birds don't get the memo can get stuck in the netting everyday.

My biggest enemy is the squirrel. More fruit damage from them then from any other pest... plus they eat like a quarter of the almost ripe fruit and then drop it...and go grab another one and repeat...its like..finish what you took... They are tree rats... its war.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 11:21PM
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alan haigh

bberry, I work outside and am very observant about the presence and behavior of squirrels as they are the worst enemies in my business. I assure you this has nothing to do with anything you suggest and I'm not talking about just my land but on sites 30 miles away in different directions that I manage and have been pruning every day for the last 3 months (now I'm having pruning dreams) giving me a lot of opportunity to evaluate squirrel populations.

Of course there are huge drops and bursts in squirrel populations based on food availability during winter- I've just never seen a drop as great as this one before. I've very little doubt about the reason. We have never had an acorn crop failure lasting two seasons since I moved here 25 years ago.

I saw how early all the dogwood berries and other available food disappeared late last summer. Skunks made trapping or even baiting voles very difficult because they worked so hard to get to the bait. Everything, even the birds and wasps were inordinately hungry.

For any interested in my methods and reasoning in squirrel protection search for "squirrel strategies" on this site or e-mail me and I'll send you the file of what I wrote.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 6:56AM
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Noogy(6 sw mi)

Mrs. G,
I'm impressed with your tastes in shotguns. I wanted a Benelli but opted for a beretta 1/2 the price!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 7:48AM
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alan haigh

By the way, it is the black monofiliment netting that completely sucks. Woven two strand netting can be tied over a tree in a few minutes even without a frame. At some sites it has worked well, at others they eat right through it and at still others I need to combine netting with baffles to succeed some years. So far that has been 100% succesful and a 100% PIA, even with woven.

Best source I found for woven netting is Seven Springs Organic Supply last time I looked and looked. Wish someone carried 30' wide so I didn't have to sew 2 pieces together.

If you use only netting be careful not to let fallen fruit build up on bottom within reach of coons- they will tear your expensive netting right up.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 8:46AM
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mrsg47(7)

Noogs, its a Legacy too! Mrs. G

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 10:49AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Wow Mrs. G, I have a new respect for you. You have a nice taste in shotguns.

This winter I was looking to buy a Benelli Super Nova before the gun laws change. But I wanted a different welder, so I ended buying that instead.

Beretta makes good stuff too.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 1:23PM
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alan haigh

Oh you gun lovers- you've hijacked my thread! All I have is a kids Harrington Richardson 20 gauge and now I feel completely inadequately endowed. Good enough for the purpose- except last year. They just kept coming from deeper in the barren woods to my oasis, no matter how many of their buddies had fallen before them. Can't police my trees all day long.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 3:52PM
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mrsg47(7)

Sorry about your thread H-man, you're right. Back to squirrels. PS Thanks Olpea, it is excellent! Can't eat pheasant with a welder! Mrs. G LOL

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 3:57PM
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alan haigh

I'm just kidding around. For me shotguns and squirrels are the same topic.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 8:54PM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

You guys ever tried hanging a squirrel in your fruit trees to send them a message? My uncle swears that throwing a deer limb behind his bushes works for deer...

Could you guys imagine driving down the street seeing hundreds of squirrels hanging right along with the nice ripe,juicy fruit! You know your in a rednecks orchard instead of the hood when you see animals hanging instead of shoes on powerlines! Hey kids, were already getting ready for Halloween!

Joe

This post was edited by Raw_Nature on Sun, Mar 17, 13 at 21:31

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 9:24PM
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Noogy(6 sw mi)

I saw a show where a neighborhood got swarmed by buzzards and the animal control officer hung a dead one upside down and it spooked all the buzzards away. Go figure, You could try it.
chuckle chuckle

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 9:52PM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

I'm sure no cows are coming near my house, I get boxes of butcher scrap for free for my dogs.. There's bloody limbs scattered throughout my driveway.. Neighbor asked if I "got a deer", they probably think I'm nuts! At least all I have to worry about is the animals stealing my fruit!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 10:14PM
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foolishpleasure

If any one wants squirrels they are free just pay for the shipping. I have deers too 6 of them visited my yard today looks like the mating season and they are getting hyper. I could not believe it they jump 4 feet chain link fence very easy.I have nothing for them to eat so the visit was unusual.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 2:05AM
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john_in_sc

I think all I can say is....
Just wait a bit longer.... It's still pretty early for Spring up there... and this is shaping up to be a "Normal" spring in terms of timing (Compared to last years 2-4 weeks early...)

It was kinda a strange winter here... Normal cold snap time to send the critters to bed... then a long warm snap in December brought them all back out.... It was really weird watching a million squirrels run all over the place in January....

But... the Weather turned "Normal" and I think the lack of food eventually caught up....

Haven't really seen anything much till this weekend... It's "Normal" spring again here - with squirrels running around like mad....

Sorry.... but I think the signs here point to - It's coming...

Thanks

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 8:15AM
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canadianplant

The number of squirrels here is getting higher. They also are around all winter long (im around lake superior).

Harvestman - Have you ever read into planting trees in the forest so they DO have a source of food rather then going into your yard?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 9:32AM
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brookw_gw

The only time I hang something dead in a tree is to encourage pollination of pawpaws. One of the interesting things about deer is that they are not the least put off by their own dead. I've witnessed dozens come up and sniff a gut pile and go on their merry way. The only time this might work is with crows and humans. Old Vlad figured that out.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 9:45AM
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alan haigh

John, I don't think you read my post- squirrels here normally fluctuate in pop. depending on amount of available winter food and that quantity was the lowest it's been for decades at least, due to 2 subsequent years of acorn failure. Also, I'm not a weekender- I'm well versed on the affect of weather in any given year for all manner of natural activity, including feeding patterns.

Canadian- I do plant mulberries partially as an alternative for squirrels to my other fruit and partially to provide a perfect site for target practice- a squirrel is seldom more distracted than when feeding on ripe mulberries!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 5:28PM
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bberry_gw

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/03/16/expert-warm-winter-has-interfered-with-squirrel-population/

Looks like a cold winter along with lack of good food resources may be a factor also.

We have almost exclusively red rats here and they are a very different animal. In fact they are meat eaters at times when they prey on eggs, nestlings and baby hares. However when fruit is ripe they like plums, peaches and apples.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 9:06PM
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kittymoonbeam

It sounds odd but aren't there any natural predatory animals that would hunt squirrels such as cats? My 3 cats keep everything away but hummingbirds. It's a shame you lost your customers harvestman. I don't see how it was your fault about the squirrels.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 12:00AM
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alan haigh

They didn't fire me because they wanted someone else to do the job. I'm essentially in the entertainment business and at some sites last season, do to factors I wasn't able to control, my show bombed. That's showbusiness.

Not to worry, my business hasn't noticeably shrunk. Customers I keep have a little more work for me every season as trees grow. I've also already replaced the lost ones with new.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 5:55AM
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