going after the squirrels!!!

matoad_gwFebruary 20, 2010

We lost most of our beautiful veggies to squirrels last yr AFTER we had relocated 16 of them. I read previous posts and know that that little beast bothers many of you so we need to figure out a way to get rid of them- right?? My farmers here (son and husb) blame me because I feed the birds and of course that means the squirrels too. This yr we plan to start relocating earlier in the spring but I don't want to separate mommies from babies. Has anyone found a good way to save their veggies from this beast?

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I'm reading that their natural predators are opossum, raccoons, hawks, wildcats, foxes, and owls. I know I have a squirrel in my front yard (active nest, inactive one in my backyard too), and I also know we have foxes and raccoons if nothing else.

Nature should balance itself out if it's allowed to go. We kill their predators and there is nothing to kill them. Humans often cause the imbalances in the areas we inhabit by trying to rid ourselves of pests. Funny how we make our own problems sometimes LOL!

Anyway, other than letting nature do its thing, offering them food they will like that you don't want is helpful and can give them enough to eat without them getting your veggies. Plant some sunflowers and put out some dry corn on the cob, maybe a berry bush that isn't very good for human consumption but isn't poisonous?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 12:28PM
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xaroline(zone 3 Calgary)

They like to dig up and eat my prize tulip bulbs!
I placed ever green boughs over the tulip beds---they do not like the prickly ever greens.
I think perhaps planting plants which are listed as "deer resistant" might help?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 12:48PM
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gardenbutt(rocky mt 4-5)

I will trade you some wild turkeys for squirrels any day..
We feed the squirrels and I have never had problems with them with my gardens.However we have the small greys not sure what you have.My biggest squirrel problem has been the planting of sunflowers every where..At one point we had close to 60 different squirrels coming to eat, they however thinned down to 8 in the last few years with out our help.Squirrels multiply and decline in cycles.We do however have feral cats,foxes, coons, bobcats,hawks, eagles and the occasional mountain lion that may or may not of taken them out.
Veges on the other hand squirrels never bothered them, but toss in a gopher or two,, last year I thought it was deer damage until it also happened in the greenhouse when I left the door open.The little turd cleaned out three flats of mixed seedlings as well as getting up onto the top of the straw bales and snarfing even more before our son was able to ,,ummmmm help him become part of the compost pile.
Now mice, in my my pots during overwintering big problems with them one year killing 40 rose bushes and over a hundred or so perennials as they went through them. They seem to of thinned out as the coons, foxes and feral cat population grew..I do get moles or voles which ever that do some damage to the bulbs, snakes and cats seem to be helping with them.
Course the snakes also enjoy squirrels, but umm more so they like to get in our pond and enjoy some of our fish, which is no biggy unless they go after the mans prized koi.
Road mice(aka deer) I could live with out them. Some times they are pesty getting on the roof and pulling the sedums up.One year they came in and cleaned out several thousand tulips that were up about 4 inches.right now they are pulling apart the straw bales from last year that we hoped to reuse.Good thing spring is coming and they tend to go up higher umm and unfortunately for drivers more get hit on the very busy highway then as well.
Then there is the , #&*&&&^%##$ wild turkeys who moved in.I have baited them away I have tossed firecrackers at them, I have chased them miles,They have done hundreds in damages to our roof garden the last two years.This year I have to totally restructure it.They attack anything green in my flower beds.Even evergreens like yew.They hit the vege straw bales and cleaned them out last fall, so much for my brussel sprouts and even the overwintering green onions.Our neighbors have had extensive damage to their young fruit trees by them.Cherry growers found that they climb right up in strip the fruit trees..Right now we are plotting with the neighbors who are year round residents to have them relocated before the summer homeowners show up because they think it is just wonderful to have them go through their property to wildlife watch.
Anyhow my point being after writing all this ,is there is always going to be something going on that affects your garden from the animal kingdom.It is a part of the circle of life.Are you 100% positive it is just squirrels?
Some suggestions, for bulbs in the flower beds I have used chicken wire for years when clients have concerns about not only squirrels but also neighborhood cats digging in the beds.For the veges this can be much more difficult.Row covers can be helpful unless they get under them.Squirrels usually do not like cayenne pepper so you could try sprinkling some on your veges and see if it helps, it does keep them out of my thistle seeds.You may want to watch and see which area the squirrels come from and remove as many of their nesting and places as possible.This can include mistletoe evergreens, firewood stacks that are not tight, piles of brush etc..Watch in the trees for where they nest and take those out before the time for them to multiply in your area, a pregnant squirrel will move on and find a more hospitable place to have her young.Another suggestion that I have not used with squirrels but do use with deer is predator urine, They also have several solar high frequency set ups out that are supposed to work for squirrels and other pests in the garden as as well. Really not sure if this will help you or not, but good luck.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 1:36PM
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I'm still wondering about squirrels, too.

This winter, it isn't Madam Squirrel in the yard. It is Monsieur Squirrel. He's kind of a pain - carries things out of the compost and scatters them about the yard, pees and poops on the deck . . . Still, I've never had anything bad happen in the garden that I can blame directly on the Eastern Gray Squirrels.

I have learned that Fox Squirrels are often seen as garden pests. Certainly, certainly, certainly . . . I know that ground squirrels are real problems, marmots are BIG problems and even chipmunks are trouble. It's just that I haven't seen the gray squirrels do much more than dig a few holes in the garden.

I never lived where Western Gray squirrels would show up in my yard and when there were Pine squirrels as neighbors - they were too shy to be any trouble.

Is it fox squirrels or ground squirrels causing these problems? I have shot ground squirrels (and dispatched a couple of marmots, but don't tell anyone).


    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 6:58PM
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I'm not sure what the squirrels we have are. In the past they have really never caused any problems. Last spring was the first real problem. One decided to nip of a few of the tomato transplants a few weeks after I set them out. Didn't eat them. At first I blamed it on everything and never thought of the squirrels. They actually live across the highway. Used to just come over to eat the black walnuts. That I didn't mind. Then later last summer they started going up each sunflower stalk and cleaning the heads. So cut them off and hung them Wasn't a few days till they found them. So had to bring what was left inside to dry. Now they are eating at my dog feeders and out at my feed house. I keep cat food out there. Used to keep it in plastic Folgers cans. Now have had to either cover them with something metal or keep it in a metal container as they will get the lid off and scatter it. Sure they are burying a bunch somewhere. So just in the last year they have become a real pain! Not sure what I'm going to do yet. But if they start on the mater plants again they will be walking on very thin ice. Jay

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 12:05PM
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It makes sense to guard our gardens, Jay. I was just reading that the deer population of some states has doubled over the last 2 decades. Pennsylvania scientists say that they have at least 200,000 more deer than proper management of the resources would allow. Even the Forest Service scientists tell us that the overpopulation is severely restricting the diversity and health of the forests. That's just one animal, altho' a mighty big one that can do a great deal of damage to a 1,000 sqft garden in an hour or 2.

Most of our garden pests aren't anywhere close to some kind of "endangered" status. That's the problem in many cases. The natural environment does not provide the resources for the overpopulation so, they show up in our yards. Not only do deer eat several pounds of the veggies but, in my experience, they will destroy 3 or 4 times more than what they might just have eaten. A lot of places still don't include does in the hunting season. Including does seems like a reasonable way to control overpopulation.

Too often, with rodents especially, it is the youngest plants that are eaten and they don't come back. I've had rabbits time and time again, lay waste to rows of green beans and peas.

. . . live and let live because they were here first? On my side of the hill, neither the eastern gray nor the fox squirrel is native. Some folks once thought that they would be nice to have around. If these critters are causing serious damage to their and our environments, maybe they should think again.

I am very much in favor, however, in understanding what it is we are up against. I remember a time when every hawk was a "chicken" hawk. Nearly 50 years ago, I even shot a couple of them - a dumb mistake.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 1:45PM
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Squirrels aren't native here. And I know there is a mix of different types. A few residents had cabins in the Rockies, Texas and MO if I remember right. In the 70's and possibly early 80's they would trap them and bring back here. We didn't have any around here till then. They started in the areas around these residents homes and then spread. Some are bigger than others and at least two different colors. The ones I have are the smaller ones. Will study the color a little closer. On the transplants they would just go along and snip them off and then leave them. Didn't seem interested in eating them. But snipped off a couple of my bigger plants. I had set them out early and they were blooming. I also have trouble with my early radishes. I have to cover them or the black birds and grackles pull them up. Mulch helps but a row cover is the only sure deterrent. After they have some size they tend to leave them alone. I try to coexist with nature. And enjoy watching animals as much as anyone. But haven't figured out a way to protect my garden minus trapping and moving them. I know some have shot a few and others have trapped several and killed them or moved them. A few got moved up on the river but they say there isn't enough food there to keep them alive. We don't have native nut trees or anything here. But I've found they eat anything. Almost as bad as a rat at getting into things. Jay

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 2:41PM
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I'm not saying live and let live exactly, I'm saying distract them and give them something to eat that won't harm what you are wanting to keep for yourself.

If we kill every pest we see, we create another pest problem by accident though. Some exceptions are understandable, but we SHOULD try and find other ways around just killing everything because it bothers us. That's how entire species become extinct... we're selfish.

I am saying protect your crops, absolutely. Distract the little buggers, maybe moving them can help... but I am reading (not here necessarily) to drown pests in cages, to shoot on sight, all kinds of things that ruin the predatory balances and then things like this happen where there is an overpopulation of a certain species because there is nothing left to hunt it naturally.

Not sure what kind of squirrel I have living here... I know is it's brown and it looks just like the ones we had back in Nebraska, and he really liked the seeds my daughter left on the front porch when she seeded her pumpkin last fall.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 12:18AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

If you relocate you just give someone else your problem. I have friends that live in the foothills West of Denver and they have had so many people dump their red squirrels on them that they have completely run out the more docile native grey squirrels with the tufted ears. It really is not fair to give your problem to someone else. If they are a problem, I believe they should be dealt with on your own turf. Sorry to vent, but I've just heard too many stories of dogs, cats, rabbits, and wild squirrels being dumped in rural areas.

My first crop of apricots was stripped within minutes when I moved the potted tree too near to a fence. I vowed then to do something about those awful squirrels, but I will have to do the dirty work myself. Not fun, but by golly I'm not going to give the problem to someone else.

And yes, their native predators have been decimated, so it would seem that the human must intervene and play the part of predator.

Last year I stopped feeding the birds with bird seed, and began to faithfully cover my compost piles. Now that it's the dead of winter I'll try Plaster of Paris and Peanut Butter balls (bon-bons). If that fails I'll buy a trap that will kill them.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Kania 2000 Trap

    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 10:24AM
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david52 Zone 6

last fall was the first time I've had problems with them in the vegetable garden. They'd go down the garden rows and chew up tomatoes and melons, all at about 4" off the ground. I could watch them do it. They bit into hundreds of tomatoes last year.

But by far the worst issue is digging under the house - they dig a nest or acorn stash or something, and pull out wheelbarrows of the road base from under concrete slab the house sits on. Which invites in other critters. So its a good idea to walk around the house every day during September.

I trap those, and used a pellet gun on the tomato eating ones.

OTOH, in the orchard, the coyote, fox and deer eat all the windfalls, and if they leave the apricot or peach pits, the squirrels clean those up rather nicely.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 7:37PM
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Let me tell you how those of us who are closest to the land (from the farm, not the city) deal with these problems. Lead poisoning from a high velocity projectile. Put the emotion aside. Natural selection will always prevail in the long run. Predator populations are actually at quite high levels, historically speaking. Ask your state's DOW. We humans have created artificial ecosystems that provide an easy living to those species that can adapt. Squirrels are edible as are wild turkeys. I haven't eaten squirrel, but wild turkey should be prepared with the utmost attention to moistness. Having hunted them, that's the greatest gourmet challenge I've found in cooking them.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2010 at 10:06PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Mark, I would love to "lead poison" my squirrels, however I fear my neighbors and whatever reprisals will come of it. I'm in the city of Denver. Anyone out there know the laws for Denver and squirrels?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 10:35AM
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I really feel much better knowing I have so many friends in the same spot or even worse (raccoons). My dogs would take care of the wild turkeys here in Arvada, LOL. I want to assure that when I relocate, it is not on others land. And I could never kill any creature- but my husband could except like one of you, he figures the neighbors would call the police and rightfully so cause there are kids around. When I read about the problem of overabundance of critters like geese, prairie dogs, etc, death would be a good solution if it were delivered humanely and instantly. As for cayenne pepper, I have been putting it on the bird's suet because they don't taste it but squirrels do and it has helped keep the suet last much longer.........My husband grew up eating squirrel back in Indiana- said it was good....I think I will look into those peanut butter balls!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 4:49PM
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gardenbutt(rocky mt 4-5)

I have no problem using lead, if it does not hit my neighbors multi- million dollar homes across the bay.I also have cooked both the squirrels(non-native) and the wild turkey(marinate,pressure cooker,dutch oven and open and closed pit roasting as well as turkey jerky).I also know how to tan them and do wonderful feather spreads and trophy tails for wall mounts.I also hunt and have native american boys who can take deer all year round based on the sex.
However due to a conflict with the local game warden about my "special neighbors" who has her caretaker turn me in for the fire crackers.He would love to get another call about the turkeys..I live in the country yet, my out of state neighbor turns me in quite a bit.I have another neighbor who lives here year round we are both looking at live trapping the turkeys and relocating them.I know others have mentioned relocating however we have found several places that they have not had success in rebuilding the turkey population where they actually want them.Believe me the turkeys and the cars would fair much better since they get hit on the road almost as often as the deer.
hmm and the dogs and the turkeys,, ya,, since we do not own dogs because of allergies the neighbor dogs chase the turkeys back to our house.Or our favorite, the out of state homeowners come in with their dogs who chase turkeys through our yard and up onto our roof doing as much damage as the birds themselves.. fun and more fun
LOL nature gotta love it..

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 9:09PM
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koidog(z5 CO)

I would think a rat zapper would do the trick. Also, I have heard that bubble gum takes care of them.

Relocating them somewhere other than the bottom of a lake makes them someone else's problem. Whatever you do, don't bring them to my area. We have way too many.

Here is a link that might be useful: rat zapper

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 11:37AM
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My posting was somewhat "tongue in cheek". I know that most people live in places where firearm discharge is either unsafe or illegal. The problem with relocating wildlife is you are usually introducing the animal into the territory of another. Thus, you create animal warfare, and the "new kid on the block" is generally the victim. It is more humane to euthanize the critter than to move it.
And then, you might as well eat it!

Southwest Colorado is closing in, too. If you don't believe me, just look at the drastic change in our election outcomes.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 9:56PM
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