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squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Posted by daninthedirt 8b / HZ10 Cent. TX (My Page) on
Sat, May 3, 14 at 15:49

OK, many of us have had trouble with squirrels in gardens. May and June are the best time to trap and relocate them humanely, since their little ones are weaned, and they haven't put away food for the winter.

But that brings up a question. What exactly is the role (if any) of the grey squirrel in the urban ecosystem? I mean, we have barred owls and red tailed hawks, which I like to have around, but there are LOADS of squirrels for them to feed on. As far as I'm concerned, those birds haven't been doing their job! The role of squirrels in the forest ecosystem is significant, in burying seeds, but that's irrelevant in an urban environment. What is our urban environment losing by getting rid of squirrels?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

That's such an interesting question I googled it. There are several articles on how squirrels were actually introduced into parks to make the areas more interesting and alive.

I skimmed one article asking much the same question as you do. While squirrels are vital to the forest because they plant seeds, the article contained only one positive role for squirrels in the urban ecosystem:


"According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), disease risk is influenced by biological diversity, and some host species act to reduce the risk of transmission of virulent zoonotic pathogens (i.e. diseases transmitted between animals and humans). In this case, squirrels (the host species) receive bites from ticks (the vectors (carriers) infected with the spirochete bacteria that cause Lyme disease) that might otherwise bite humans, and thereby break the chain of pathogen transmission. The presence of a relatively inefficient host species has thereby reduced the rate of infectious disease spread into the human host population. According to the NIH, squirrels are poor reservoir species for Lyme disease; fewer than 15% of ticks feeding on Gray squirrels become infected, even though virtually all of the squirrels carry the bacterium. As the rate of infected ticks goes down, the rate of infected people goes down,"

On attracting squirrels:

"In one case the homeowner is a hunter/trapper who seems
to have an inordinate fear of wildlife. Another neighbor does not want her garden dug up by nut-burying squirrels. Yet these same individuals maintain multiple bird feeders,
decorative water fountains, shrubs, and trees, creating a spa-like experience for wildlife and attracting squirrels like a magnet. According to wildlife ecologist Anthony DeNicola,
“It’s sad. You set the animal up. You provide an easy food source. The animal habituates. And then you persecute it."

On trapping and release:

"Even if the animal were to be released unharmed there is great risk that the animal will not survive the relocation, as shown in a three-year study by squirrel expert Van Flyger
and colleagues. During summer and autumn of 1994-1997, we determined the movements and mortality of 38 adult male Eastern grey squirrels that had been captured in urban-suburban backyards and translocated to a large forest. The squirrels did not fare well. Squirrels not found dead or classified as 'probable mortality' disappeared from the forest with a median time to disappearance of 11 days.
Ninety-seven per cent (37 of 38) of the squirrels either died or disappeared from the release area within 88 days."

The mention of Lyme disease is interesting to me as I had one friend die of Lyme disease and another friend is severely disabled. People don't realize that by feeding deer they are inviting Lyme disease carrying ticks into close proximity. But that's another story.

Thank for posting the question. I'd never thought about it like that before.

Here is a link that might be useful: Do squirrels matter?


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

VERY interesting about disease vectors. Thanks for the careful research.

The Barq paper is also pretty fascinating. Now, I suspect that urban squirrels need an urban environment to survive, both in terms of food an predator avoidance. Especially the latter. I'm just moving these guys across town, to a park, rather than to a wild forest in the country as Van Flyger seemed to be talking about. They aren't going to run into a lot of coyotes and mountain lions in that park they need to hide from, and don't have habitats in which to do so. Moving them in early summer gives them a whole summer to build up food supplies for the winter. There will be some competition with established squirrels in the park and surrounding neighborhoods, but that competition goes on all the time everywhere.

By the way, I do NOTHING to attract squirrels, so there is no persecution here.

Now, Barq concludes -- "Do squirrels matter? The answer, simply put, is that yes, squirrels matter, because nature matters." I find that pretty simplistic, because there is a whole lot of nature that is really pretty unfriendly to humans. By that token, Ebola matters, as do lice, bedbugs and squash vine borers. I will be environmentally conscious, but I won't be stupid.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

"But that brings up a question. What exactly is the role (if any) of the grey squirrel in the urban ecosystem?"

Good question. I can only answer that with an experience I had regarding grey squirrels in an urban setting. One year we had a baby grey squirrel fall from a tree during a storm. What to do, what do do?

We kept the baby squirrel in a cage for a day and then after researching them we learned that the squirrels live in a community and share parenting. That meant that any mother squirrel in the area in theory would take the baby and care for it.

So we put the baby in the yard with hopes that one of the squirrel moms would take it and care for it. That took all of 10 minutes while we waited and worried. Sure enough a squirrel mommy swooped that baby up into the trees to care for it.

It gave this urban human a sense of hope and goodness in the world. That some anonymous squirrel would put herself out to take care of a fragile squirrel baby made the world seem right and good.

So now when I find that a squirrel has stolen a bulb or made a hole in the yard I don't care so much. I have seen that they can be selfless and caring as much or more as humans. They extend the same courtesy and will take to the trees and give me the lawn when I am out. It is a shared existence and we are both better for that fact.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

May and June are the best time to trap and relocate them humanely.

Relocating may make you feel that you are doing the human thing, but what you do is dump a squirrel into a territory where they do not know any of the landmarks and features, as a stranger and the interloper. They usually die a miserable death in a territorial battle with the locals.

There will be some competition with established squirrels in the park and surrounding neighborhoods, but that competition goes on all the time everywhere.

Your moving the squirrels makes room for ... MORE SQUIRRELS! The young from surrounding areas will quickly move in to where the population has been thinned out a bit.

It's a futile and cruel gesture.

By the way, I do NOTHING to attract squirrels, so there is no persecution here. Do you have a garden? That's all it takes.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

That's very nice to hear. Now, don't get me wrong. I think squirrels are fun to have around. They liven things up. I don't mind when they steal a few of my cherry tomatoes. BUT, when they take half the crop, and chomp holes in my melons (no, not just one, but a big bite out of each one!), it's time to put my foot down and get the trap out.

I've been here 20 years, and I have to say that in the last few years, the number of squirrels has increased noticeably. I'd like to believe that the numbers would reequilibrate, but they have not done that yet. We have a flock (yes, at least three) of barred owls that appeared a few years ago, and I had been hoping that they would cut the squirrel population down. But I haven't seen any effect. Gee, I wonder if the owls are killing off smaller rodents that compete for food with the squirrels. Hmmm.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

In my last note, I was responding to Acadiafun.

Now, to lazygardens, I hear ya talkin'. What I'm doing is, I believe, more humane and less cruel than killing them outright. (You think poison would be good?) Though we can argue about that. I'm moving them to a comparable environment. I can't believe they need landmarks unless they have food to find that they've stashed. They don't. It's early summer. Once they are weaned, squirrels are totally ignored by their parents. What landmarks are those young squirrels going to have? They have none. As to territorial battles, it's going to be about competition for food, and not about claws and teeth.There is ALWAYS competition for food. Anywhere. Let's not delude ourselves into thinking that established wildlife have easy and happy lives.

Now, of course, as you say, moving the squirrels just opens up the ecosystem for more to move in. But that's not going to happen quickly. As you note, relocating squirrels is certainly not a one-time task. I will say that a couple of the squirrels I have now are especially invasive of vegetable gardens. More than those in the past. It may be a matter of relocating the badly behaved ones that have decided that my gardens belong to them. Unfortunately, they don't wear "I'm bad!" signs around their necks. I won't bring the traps back out until the squirrels become a problem again.

"Do you have a garden? That's all it takes."

Ah, so I'll just stop gardening. Thanks.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Can't you build a cage for your garden?

I tried not to say anything because of my upbringing. You know, if you can't say something nice...yadda yadda.

It drives me crazy that people want to live outside of heavy human populations, in the country or suburbs and then want to eradicate the previous tenants (wildlife). We displace lots of wildlife in our quest to live in quiet surroundings. It was their home first.

Stepping off the soap box to go pout in the corner.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

No, the garden is 20x10. I'm not going to build a giant structure just to keep a few squirrels out.

Not sure who you're referring to, but I'm in a very urban neighborhood. Not country. Not suburbs. The nearest "country" is many miles away. More people here than squirrels, I'm pretty sure. The wildlife "previous tenants" were the sole tenants about seventy years ago, and let's not be oblivious to the fact that grey squirrels are often NOT native, but introduced to cities. I'd be very happy if these particular current furry tenants concerned themselves just with the wild flora, as they evolved to do, but no, they aren't "wild" anymore, except that they live outside (except when they don't -- attics, etc.) So really, we're not talking about wildlife. We're talking about untamed animals that cohabit the neighborhood, eating things they would ordinarily not be eating.

I have raccoons and possums, by the way, and I never have any trouble with them. They usually keep to themselves. I would let them go if I trapped one. In fact, just last night a possum came and fished the squirrel bait (apple and peanut butter) out of the trap. Cute guy.

You know, my countryside counterparts would be dealing with this problem with a rifle, poison, or a trap intended to kill, not with a live trap. They'd be doing real eradication, and they wouldn't be posting here to ask questions about ecosystem management.

It should be understood that while blind relocation (with no concern to time of year or quality of habitat) probably isn't good for the animal, relocation of animals is a standard procedure in wildlife management and preservation. If done right, it works.

Just trapped another squirrel this morning. Displaced him/her to a very nice riparian site, very similar to mine, on the same creek, about two miles away. Sayonara.


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Squirrels Are a Valuable Garden Ally.

The first squirrels we had in our new home's yard, years ago, were full-grown, mature, polite creatures.

When we added a couple of walnut trees and a tiny vegetable garden, the older squirrels disappeared and were replaced by impetuous young ones.

It is only now, over thirty years later, that the squirrel population is again becoming more sedate. We still seem to have younger squirrels, but they appear better able to relate properly to the habitat we have created with our shrub garden.

Over the years, I have frequently noticed the squirrels thoroughly tilling the soil in spring and eliminating many things that would otherwise have grown into weeds. For example, they love to eat maple seeds. They dig these out of the garden and also remove them from our gutters. Additionally, they do an excellent job of tip pruning all the trees in the neighborhood, making for much better shade coverage during the heat of summer.

Additionally, squirrels feel deeply about their environment and the things they are used to. When DH removed one branch from a tree that had grown too close to our house a few summers ago, a squirrel sat nearby and cried for the entire rest of the day.

It is frustrating to have a critter eat something that one has fervently tended, but with a bit of cleverness this can be minimized. For example, DH borders his most deer-attractive crops with hot pepper plants, and also plants mangle beets along the garden perimeter for deer to nibble on.

Raccoons and possums can also be very destructive in gardens, but probably are not in this case because their natural behavior has not been changed by disturbing the population and creating new immigrants.

IMO squirrels are much better for the human environment than humans are. Despite this, I have never had one try to cage me and remove me from the area.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

So, I'm curious. Where do we draw the line? Leaf-footed bugs are pretty cute, but they destroy tomatoes. I've never had one try to kill me, so I guess I shouldn't kill it? Or are we talking just cute furry mammals, perhaps? (Too bad about my big stream turtles, but they don't invade my garden ...) I have garden-troublesome birds, but I'm happy to share a bit with them. They're not about wholesale destruction, like these squirrels are.

Hot pepper plants? Hah. I've spread my garden (which includes plenty of jalapenos) with capsicum, and the squirrels just tiptoe over it. Remember, these are URBAN squirrels, with decidedly urban taste. They're probably in their nests gulping habaneros.

No, squirrels aren't better for the human environment than smart humans are. Unfortunately, we've got a lot of dumb humans.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Finding it impossible to draw the line I guess you could say I straddle the fence (so to speak), while at the same time relying on a fence to keep troublesome critters out, in my case -- deer. Since humans killed off their predators there are thousands of times more deer now than 100 years ago. It's probably the same with squirrels.

Let us know if the removal is working and for how long.

For your 20 x 10 garden how about putting hoops of pvc pipe and covering with plastic netting that could be folded back when you want to enter the area?

Here is a link that might be useful: Too many white tail deer ....


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

It is a dour heart that is not joyed by the frisking and scampering of these little creatures.

I can think of many humans who would be hard pressed to demonstrate a positive contribution to the "urban ecosystem."


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

My heart isn't dour. But their frisking and scampering isn't my problem with them.

Well said about humans who might not demonstrate a positive contribution to the human ecosystem.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

On second thought I guess hoops would be a lot of trouble and expense to build, but then it may be the only sure way.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hoops for keeping squirrels out ...


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

You might want to take a look at Title 31, Part 2, Chapter 65, Subchapter C, Rule 65.116 of the Texas Administrative Code, relating to "Nuisance Squirrels."


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

-- Title 31, Part 2, Chapter 65, Subchapter C, Rule 65.116 of the Texas Administrative Code

"No permit or report is required for a landowner or his/her agent to live trap, transport, and release nuisance squirrels if:
(1) local ordinances prohibit the use of means and methods provided by §65.11 of this title (relating to Means and Methods);
(2) written permission from the owner of the property where squirrels are to be released:
(A) has been obtained prior to transport and release; and
(B) is carried while transporting squirrels;
(3) trapping devices are:
(A) designed to not inflict physical injury to trapped squirrels; and
(B) labeled with the owner's name, street address, city, and telephone number;
(4) reasonable precautions are made to assure the humane treatment of trapped squirrels; and
(5) trapped squirrels are released no later than 24 hours after capture. "

Thanks. I'm good. I would *never* release on private property.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

roselee, those hoops look nice, but I'm not going to go there.

Now, these squirrels had completely desecrated a bird feeder I had up (and which was hanging several feet under a 3x3 foot piece of sheet metal that was supposed to discourage them). It was amazing watching their acrobatics getting under that sheet metal. But they did it, every time, and seed went absolutely flying.

See, now. It's spring. There are natural seeds ALL OVER THE PLACE. These squirrels don't need my birdseed. I have to believe that they have largely lost their wildness, and are now in the game just for the fun of it.

Having now displaced two squirrels, my bird feeder is back up, and birds are actually on it!! Haven't seen a bird feeder pirate in a few days. We'll see how long that lasts.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Not to be tiresome, but I would have sworn you said something about releasing these little critters in a park (the issues relating to the definition of "nuisance squirrels" and local codes aside.)


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Actually, they were released in different parts of what is formally a greenbelt, which is not even a park. Look, if there is a legal issue here, just tell me what you think it is. Let's not beat around the bush. I frankly don't see any legal issue.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Look, I just got to wondering if it was permissible to trap and release squirrels elsewhere, in Texas. The first thing I came across was something to the effect that, since tree squirrels are classified as "game animals," a permit is necessary to trap them. Then I came across the exception for "nuisance squirrels," which I have neither the time nor inclination to fully explore. I supposed you might be interested in, if nothing else, the requirement that one must have the written permission of the owner of the property, be it public or private, where the squirrels are to be released. You are the one who used the term "park." I am not attempting to police your activities.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Dan- you can bring them to me. I'd love to have more squirrels. I love to watch them. My dad has at least 12 bird feeders up. The birds are so fat they can barely fly. Wouldn't hurt them a bit to share with the squirrels.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

daninthedirt, I read through this & know what its like to be completely frustrated & utterly at my wits end about a chronic problem only to end up debating about ethics.

Try posting you are sick of a line of destructive volunteer trees on your neighbors property line only to get into defense mode with a lot of talk coming at you about trees adding oxygen to the atmosphere, how beautiful they are, how loved they are etc. Never mind that the urban area I live in was once open prairie with no trees, speaking of invading territory or cutting trees. Trust me, these particular trees are not assets, you'd think I was talking murder.

Your statement comparing yourself to those who would shoot or poison them caught my attention. Its true what you say about how many folks wouldn't hesitate to do just that. If it'd been my Dad back in the day, he'd just get his shotgun out without even blinking & no one would have thought a thing of it & this discussion would have never taken place. Nowadays such issues can become highly charged because times & attitudes have changed. We can hardly speak to each other anymore about such matters without polarizing attitudes.

Common sense should reign in these things & I often think there used to be a lot more of it around. This is a question of the garden or the squirrels. Two choices. (This is not to be interpreted as I would shoot them)

What I am hearing is you want to protect your garden & you also want to try to be as humane as possible in solving a problem that has become exasperating? IOW, You are sick of loosing the battle with these cute creatures getting regular free meals at your expense in time & labor, that you would rather get them to eat elsewhere, but you don't want to kill them.

Follow your own course & deal with it the best way you can based on your own judgement & avoid ad hoc arguments about humans displacing squirrels, birds, cuteness etc.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Mon, May 5, 14 at 5:05


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

DanInTheDirt: By the way, I do NOTHING to attract squirrels, so there is no persecution here. (Sat, May 3, 14 at 22:17)

These squirrels don't need my birdseed. I have to believe that they have largely lost their wildness, and are now in the game just for the fun of it. ....
Having now displaced two squirrels, my bird feeder is back up, and birds are actually on it!! Haven't seen a bird feeder pirate in a few days. We'll see how long that lasts. (Sun, May 4, 14 at 18:47)

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So which is it? Do you do NOTHING? Or do you provide an easy food source at the feeders. And then persecute them for wanting to use that tempting resource?


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Just for the record, the grey squirrel is a ground dweller and, unlike the tree squirrel, presents significant health hazards and enjoys no protection under the law.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

lazygardens, I did not put my bird feeder up to attract squirrels. In fact, I engineered it to discourage them. It is not an "easy food source" (ask these squirrels!) Also, I'm not relocating the squirrels because they are raiding the bird feeder. I'm relocating them because they devastate my garden, which I actually put a lot of work into.

Let's not call it "persecution", shall we? Or if we do, we might consider who exactly is persecuting who.

As TexasRanger10 notes, this discussion is really careening off the rails. We have coyotes in our urban environment who kill our pets. But that's just their wild nature. Who are we to persecute them for following their wild nature? They make life miserable for people. Now, I'm not exactly sure what the city does with those coyotes, but they don't catch them, pat them on the head, tell them to behave, and let them go. They don't look the other way.

We're talking about animals who are otherwise "wild" but find themselves in an environment where their "wildness" simply isn't tolerated. No, a squirrel raiding a bird feeder isn't "wild". A squirrel looking me in the eye while it takes a tomato I grew isn't "wild". That's not what those animals do in the wild.

If you value wildness in animals, then just move out, and let them be wild.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

TexasRanger10, I think you hit the nail on the head. Co-habitation of an environment is possible up to a point. At some point, it just doesn't work. I have nothing against squirrels in general. I think they're cute, and entertaining. I have something against at least one of THESE squirrels. Now, they all look pretty much the same, but at least one of the currently resident squirrels has habits that are driving me nuts. Since they don't wear "I'm the bad one!" badges, I just have to thin the herd, and hope I can reduce the problem. I've been here twenty years, and have had serious problems just in the last one or two. So I'm guessing it's ONE bad squirrel, and I'm not going to wait until it croaks, by which time it will have taught it's progeny to do the same thing.

I am doing it as humanely as possible. I am relocating to a very similar environment, during a time of year that will not leave them short of food or abandoning little squirrels. I really don't feel sorry for them.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Daninthedirt, thanks for bringing this subject to our attention, for your and everyone's thoughtful comments, for trying to use the most humane solution available to you, and most of all for being a good sport through it all.

Much appreciation!


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

daninthedirt I'm in an old urban area, very established with buildings & tall trees which was once a grass prairie. On these issues, my views are widely different when speaking of "in town" as opposed to the surrounding natural landscape. I get very emotional about trees taking over prairie, habitat loss of Prairie Hens, Prairie Dog issues and the like. I seem to be in a minority of one concerning the trees eating up prairie. People get quite emotional about their trees.

I have seen dozens of posts on GW discussing the problem of voles, moles, raccoons and the like but no one seems to get very emotional when talking about getting rid of them & many solutions are offered, some quite funny due to the exasperation of the gardener. I am not sure why squirrels destroying gardens are viewed differently. Maybe they are just cuter?

I don't know, this little vole below is kind of cute. If you read about Prairie Dog towns, the organization, families, rooms etc its quite fascinating yet some find great sport in shooting them for sport. Ranchers & farmers hate them but they play an important role in the prairie ecosystem.

My problem is cats. Someone must have about 3 dozen of them because suddenly we are overrun by them wandering where they want through the neighborhood. I saw a couple cars with outraged signs saying "NOTICE !! Someone is trapping cats, please report this evil person" as if we are to turn this evil varmit in & be indignant. The buzz around the park is there is a cruel person doing cruel acts by trapping cats run wild. Well, at the risk of incurring wrath I am not indignant, actually I felt rather glad someone was taking control of what is rapidly becoming out of control. I keep my mouth shut locally & keep my opinions to myself due to the majority mindset but we do see less cats suddenly which doesn't upset me.

He is sorta cute.......

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Mon, May 5, 14 at 19:34


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

TexasRanger10 -- yes, cuteness counts. A lot. Now, when it comes to animals that we eat, there seems to be a natural dividing line between "cuteness" and edibility. Cows, pigs, fish and chickens aren't "cute" (well, big ones at least), and we kill them with abandon. We relocate food animals routinely, including fish, which we'd like to call "wild". Now, I've heard that squirrel stew is pretty good!

Speaking of which, I think there is a brand of vegetarianism going on here. We're talking about protecting animals that deserve to live, and live happily. Now I respect vegetarians, though I am not one. But they don't tell me not to eat meat.

As to cats, well, I sorta like cats, and they don't chew holes in melons and cucumbers and strip tomatoes off of bushes. Some people get mortally offended by cats relieving themselves in their garden, but that's not a destructive activity, and just means you have to be a little more careful washing produce. But I'm not overrun with cats.

I think it comes down to respect, including respect for your own interests. I respect my cute pests enough to want to preserve them, but I have no reason to honor their desire to destroy my work.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Heck, I don't mind 3 or 4 stray cats running loose but 12 to 15 starts getting a bit worrisome along with the nightly mating noises when you do the math. I am for spaying or neutering ones pets or being responsible by keeping them from roaming. If they were there would be no need for signs on cars or someone finally taking hold of the situation to do the dirty work. I don't have anything against cats.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Humans domesticated cats. A feral cat community or even too many strays, is a failure of humanity, to me.

Humane people simply do not leave a pet behind when they move. And they neuter and spay as a way to control all those unwanted strays.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

There is a gigantic prairie dog town west of Lubbock. They almost all died off between the Summers of '11 and '12. Nearly broke my heart. And made the coyotes hungry. It also breaks my heart to see a coyote strung up on a fence.

I guess I'm pondering the good points everyone has made and musing over the strange nature of us humans.

Just today, I looked out at my lush trees that I love and pondered what a strange thing it is that they should not be there. I'm a transplant from Memphis, Tn that has grown to truly adore the big beautiful sky. I get antsy and claustrophobic now in Memphis. But I love my trees. And cats, dogs, squirrels, prairie dogs, coyotes, horny toads, box turtles, hawks, and heck, even the dang grackles- lol.

The older I get, the more soft-hearted I get. I try to "capture and release" spiders, even.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Neuter and spay unwanted cats? But, but, then they can't be "wild" like they're supposed to be! Can you imagine how sad it would make a feral cat to if they were spayed or neutered? For shame. You'd have crying cats all over your yard. We have to let cats do what they were created to do ... which is to procreate like mad.

Not.

I should say that I set my trap where I had troubles with squirrels. Two squirrels have been caught and moved. I still see plenty of squirrels outside the yard but, gosh, they aren't in my stuff and, as a result, they aren't being trapped. They're minding their own business! Yes, we'll see how long that lasts ...


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Dan- Hopefully, the other squirrels are smart and saw that you mean business!

My cats have never stepped a paw outside. They have a perch in every window that looks out over all the bird feeders and fat, lazy birds.

I catch pure heck from more people than you would believe. Some of them even complain about cats pooping in their yard. Those very same people look horrified at the cruelty of keeping a cat safe from disease, dogs, foxes, coyotes, cars and cruel people.

There's no pleasing everybody. At least the squirrels are pleased with your buffet!


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

I've thought about this post all day. I can't tell a trashy grey squirrel from a protected tree squirrel, I don't guess. But I enjoy them all.

And I guess it seems more humane, to me, to kill a squirrel quickly than for it to suffer when relocated.

I'm a sucker for the visuals created by the squirrel crying for its' beloved branch and the poor little lost one starving and being bullied by locals while it struggles to find its' way home.

My generation was exposed to too many tear-jerker Disney movies.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

I'm still trying to understand why, if relocated in a very similar environment (such that it understands all the food sources and the predators), at a time of year when there is lots of food and conditions are very mild, and when it hasn't left young uns' behind, and since mating is not exclusive by any means, WHY does it suffer? Sorry, but it just doesn't make much sense. Um, homesickness? Geez Louise. They call them helicopter parents. Might as well be helicopter wildlife lovers.

OK, sure, if it's going to suffer from relocation, I'll just kill it instead. Natch.

At worst, a happy relocation is like the counter to the tear-jerker Disney movie. It's the happy Disney movie! Squirrel is relocated. Finds new friends, leaves bullies behind, has new adventures. They're probably both just as accurate. That's what we get from learning natural history from Disney movies.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

See?!? Can't please everyone.

But clearly, an unkind or cruel person would never give a thought to whether or not baby squirrels were weaned before relocating a pesty rodent, rather than killing it outright. Or respond to sappy Disney sentiment. You're so busted! :)


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Good luck to ya dan, hope that solves the problem. I just came inside after being on the phone outdoors. I only saw 6 different cats, one was half grown. I am just badass enough to put cholla cuttings in my ornamental grasses. They love to use them as kitty toilets, "But not any more", as Hannibal Lecter would say. Better watch out, someone might take that as a serious comparison. I am JOKING.

Realistically, I keep imagining what my Dad would say on that squirrel issue. He'd of looked at anyone who objected as if they must be just plain crazy or slow on the draw. If it came to a choice between homegrown vegetables on the table to feed the family or a few squirrels there'd be no choice but people who have lived in lean years don't base their attitudes on the fluffy tear-jerker stuff, they are simply practical in such matters. They knew the difference between the big important issues & the small nit picky ones & set priorities differently. If anything attacked the home, it was dealt with. Dad grew up on a farm & it makes a difference, city folk can be squeamish about a lot of things that country folk take in stride as a part of life because its not always sanitized, pretty & sweet on a farm. I remember chickens hanging on clotheslines flapping around with their heads chopped off so you aren't so bad.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Tue, May 6, 14 at 2:28


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

I'm wondering if the invasive squirrels could be retrained by shooting high power water pistols at them with enough vinegar added to the water to make it really disagreeable if they get hit.

I once frightened some raucous crows out of my yard by pretending to aim at them with a broom handle.

I am not unsympathetic to your problem; DH also grows his own vegetables, but animals should have rights, too. Whether you admit it to yourself or not, you are enticing the squirrels to your property with the bird feeders, and probably, in an urban environment, mice and rats as well.
I have a neighbor that has several bird feeders, and of course lose all the cherries from my cherry tree every spring to the flocks of birds he has attracted. Additionally, one of the baby birds that fell from a nearby nest had the worst case of mites I had ever seen.

If you did discontinuous bird feeding the squirrels might not be quite as troublesome, and the birds would not grow so dependent upon you that an advertent or inadvertent change in your schedule would not lead to possible bird casualties.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

A neighbor about 2 blocks from me told a story of how he was determined to get rid of the squirrel problem in his garden. He said he killed about 70 that year and they kept on coming. I ran into a gardener with a bigger problem the other day. Where he lives there are beavers. Big beavers who would take down a significant crepe myrtle and haul off roses etc. After trying everything he put in an electric wire fence on the perimeter. Apparently big beaver screamed when he was shocked and soon went elsewhere.
It might be easier to make a cage for your garden.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

After reading this thread, I'm having visions of cartoon beavers screaming and Elmer Fudd running around after squirrels with his shotgun!

I jest. We have 3 squirrels in the big oak trees on our lot. They haven't gotten into the attic and we don't grow vegetables so I don't worry about them too much. As someone in a suburban neighborhood with just a few flower beds, they aren't a big nuisance for me. Having said that, if they did become a problem, I have no problem doing whatever I have to in order to control them. I'll play dirty, I don't care. I wouldn't do anything that would endanger my surroundings or other people but I have no problem letting my dog loose on them. To me, squirrels are just "rats" that live in trees. I'm not out to decimate the population or anything but if I ever do need to take action for whatever reason, I won't have much of a conscience about it. Flame me if you want, but that's just how I feel.

We all have our feelings and experiences with these kinds of things. Regardless of any differences of opinion, the truth of matter is I highly doubt the squirrel population will ever become endangered.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

paradisecircus, that's a good thought. I think the issue is is not about species endangerment, but about endangerment of (or more likely just making mentally distraught) individual squirrels. Yes, squirrels are just rats that live in trees. But there are those who would say that even rats deserve to be as wild and happy as they were created to be and, yes, rats can be kinda cute (as in, furry with pink eyes).

By trapping and relocating a squirrel, instead of killing it, I'm respecting the animal by giving it a fair chance. I don't really owe it anything else. For a rat, or a mouse, or a nasty bug, I don't even owe it that.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

We have a peach, pear and pecan tree. My husband started shooting them with the pellet gun last year when he was unemployed. We ate them too (free food). It was the first year in 13 years that we've ever had pears! We had peaches too! I used to like them and thought they were so cute (still do) but they've destroyed so much in our neighborhood, besides eating eating our produce, like fences, chewing in people's attics, etc. Sadly, there's no predators to keep them in check and they have overrun the neighborhood. It's going to have to be people who keep them in check.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Yes, I feel when they misbehave, the gloves are off. I most certainly find it admirable when someone takes the time to be humane. One doesn't have to go to the effort. Unfortunately I'm not quite so patient but I do find it admirable.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Oh and I also find the little critters cute too. Usually my thought is, "why do such cute little creatures have to be such pains in the donkey??" But much in the same way I've had to learn to not be swayed by good looking' dudes, I can't be swayed by these little animals' cuteness.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

daninthedirt: I have nothing against squirrels in general. I think they're cute, and entertaining.

The fact that they ARE such cute native diurnal vertebrates certainly works to their advantage. We can use diatomaceous earth without much thought about what it does to the invertebrate pests we hope to eliminate, but many of us would likely be appalled over some similar "organic" treatment that could desiccate squirrels who were damaging the garden. Suspect this thread might also have had a different tone if the subject had been the non-native nocturnal roof and Norway rats also in more-than-we-care-to-believe abundance in urban landscapes. No judgement... just interesting how we can compartmentalize and rationalize things.

Seems it's not the presence, but the population density of squirrels in urban areas that's the real issue. We've co-existed with squirrels in many parts of the country where they (and a few other critters) got away with something less than 30% of the fruit, nuts, and vegetables we grew, which seemed like a reasonable balance. However, in our current neighborhood where their main "predators" are vehicles, they've multiplied to the point that they take 100% of the peaches, pears, tomatoes and other things we've tried. Add another pecan or oak tree and you eventually get more squirrels. In the absence of predators, the population grows to the level supported by the local food supply. Seems we urban-living humans either have to accept this or somehow fill the void left by the raptors, bobcats, coyotes, and other predators we've displaced. Domestic and feral cats used to help when they were allowed to roam free, but animal control and changing norms/laws have reduced their impact on urban wildlife.... which is generally a good thing, but also a boon to the squirrel population.

Nature tends to extract the tolls for keeping things in balance from the unlucky and less capable. Add squirrels to healthy wild space and should be no surprise that some will end up as meals for predators or starve when out competed for the available food. I can still vividly remember the famished deer carcasses seen as a kid on a mountain hike at snow melt after an especially brutal winter... I didn't like it then or now, but not good, not bad, not right, not wrong - just a harsh reality.

As far as the original question: What exactly is the role (if any) of the grey squirrel in the urban ecosystem? Well it's obvious, they create jobs ;-) Over the past several years our extended family has hired PLUMBERS to remove squirrels from vents, CARPENTERS, PAINTERS, and ROOFERS to repair soffits, siding, and shingles that squirrels chewed though to gain access to attics, ELECTRICIANS to repair house wiring they ate through, TOW TRUCK DRIVERS to take squirrel disabled vehicles to repair shops, AUTOMOBILE MECHANICS to replace squirrel eaten vehicle wiring, PEST CONTROL professionals to remove said squirrels from attics and trap the rare, but persistent, vehicle attackers, GROWERS and NURSERY professionals to replace plants and bulbs damaged, eaten, or removed by squirrels. Some folks I've known in the power and telecom industries detest them for all the R & M TECHNICIANS they have to deploy to repair squirrel damage to urban infrastructure.

They can be expensive, but I still like them - just not their numbers. On a personal level, some of their "roles" in our urban landscape include:

  • Perpetual reminders to be grateful for the line of gardeners (and squirrels) that established the numerous mature/masting trees in our neighborhood necessary to support them.

  • Administering humility. While not much of a gardener, once in a while I will fantasize that I've achieved the "perfect" plant or bulb placement for a small spot... only to find the bulbs and plants strewn about the yard the next day.... am never quite as hung up about getting things perfect after these reminders that some chaos and randomness go with the shared space I usually think of as MY yard.

  • They are hands down the most fun "playmates" the dogs have had to stare down and chase about the yard. Hard to stay irritated long with anything that can make the pets so happy.

  • Enthralling young kids. Most wild urban mammals are nocturnal. Without the squirrels, kids wouldn't as easily acquire the awareness that even in urban areas we are surrounded by mammals that are not kept on leashes or in yards, homes, and cages as domesticated pets.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

bostedo, yep, that's correct. First of all, cuteness counts. It's a powerful survival trait around humans. But I think that's exactly right that, to some extent, since we humans have greatly reduced the number of squirrel predators, it is our responsibility to fulfill that duty, cuteness aside.

I'm not sure I'd put plumbers, painters, roofers, electricians & etc. in the urban ECOsystem, though they are certainly an important part of the urban economy. So while squirrels may not have a lot of value to the urban ecosystem, they have significant value to the urban economy!

I like them too. In their place. And that place is not in my attic nor my garden.

I should note that in England and Ireland, grey squirrels are wholly introduced, and they are a HUGE problem. They are considered vermin.

gardener972, got any good recipes?


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

"Tree squirrels in Texas are classified as game animals. . . .Anyone wishing to legally trap squirrels and relocate them from your property once they are caught should notify representatives of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department before exploring this option" (Controlling Tree Squirrels in Urban Areas, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.)


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

daninthedirt, The jobs bit was somewhat in jest. You're right that the jobs are not part of the ecosystem, but aren't the people that eventually hold them? So, you see, squirrels are also responsible for urban crawl .... time for another emoticon ;-)

The fox ("red") squirrel is actually dominant in our part of north central Texas. A little larger than the gray, but otherwise similar vices and virtues.

Here is a link that might be useful: Squirrels of Texas


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

"Fox squirrels and gray squirrels are classified as game animals in Texas, but can be legally cagetrapped in areas where they are causing damage or creating a nuisance. Landowners wishing to livetrap squirrels and relocate them after they have been caught should notify representatives of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department."

See link below.

I might give 'em a call. You think the many many Texas wildlife removal services also call TP&W whenever they want to set out traps for squirrels? TP&W would have to hire a phone bank to service those calls.

Here is a link that might be useful: Controlling Tree Squirrels in Urban Areas


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

whitecap, The unfortunate backside of your point is that the only legal way to remove nuisance squirrels from YOUR property without authorization from TPWD (direct or via pest control) is to kill them..... as long as you don't keep their pelts.

Here is a link that might be useful: NUISANCE FUR-BEARING ANIMALS (TPWD)


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Daninthedirt, we boil up a pot of them (seasoned water) then debone them and freeze the meat so it's ready for any dish. Any casserole or dish that calls for chicken we replace with squirrel. They are a tiny bit gamey tasting but we are used to it now. I make spicey dishes... Indian, Mediterranian, Mexican, etc. Currently we have 27 whole squirrels (skinned) in the freezer and we've eaten a LOT of them and given some away. The neighborhood is still overrun!

Skinning them was a challenge... my hubby learned how to do it on YouTube. It's best to do it under running water so the hair doesn't stick to the body. It's like a magnet to hair and very hard to get off.

Also, there are a LOT of good squirrel recipes on-line. Call us redneck but it's free and organic!

Hope this helps!


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Use gloves handling the raw squirrel, including when skinning.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Cynthia, I have a friend in Albuquerque, N.M. & the problem critters she deals with is bears. Things can be even worse than squirrels or beavers. (that was a new one on me) These bears eat everything in sight, get into garbage, ate the electrical out of their car, tore up the fence, leave huge-mongous piles of droppings & otherwise create destruction & havoc on their property. Not to mention, a person would feel a bit leery going out at night while a nightly raid was going on.

How many frustrated rabbit & deer stories have I read on GW? You don't usually see alligator tears or guilting when someone asks advice or just needs to rant about their lost vegetables. What about Bambii, speaking of the Disney angle?

Actually I see a difference in these other animals & the squirrel issue. One is a natural habitat issue while the other is 100% an urban issue. Squirrels have made urban areas into their natural home where they long ago adapted so they multiply & thrive. These other animals are victims of a shrinking habitat & are affected by drought, loss of territory etc. or are too numerous due to lack of natural predators. Often they are just hungry or desperate, unlike squirrels.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

No, tree squirrels can legally be trapped and relocated, under certain conditions. Since they have many friends, some in high places, I would want to be very sure I was within the parameters of these conditions, before engaging in this practice. As noted above, there seems to be an exception to the permit requirement for "nuisance squirrels." I'm sure some would like to believe that all squirrels who set paw on their property are "nuisance squirrels." TP&W, however, may take a more restrictive view of the matter. I read of one instance where an official was dispatched to verify the plaints of a residential homeowner. Then the "Nuisance Squirrel" exception applies only if local codes or ordinances don't permit the means set forth in another part of the code. I have no idea what this means. It does seem clear enough, however, that one must have the prior written consent of the landowner receiving these captives.

There are obviously conflicting interests here. Removing a squirrel from one's property removes it, to the displeasure of many, from the neighborhood. I can see where some of the "final solution" endeavors described here could have serious consequence.:


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

"Final Solution" is suggestive of Nazi Germany. Quite provocative not to mention extreme considering the nature of the subject. To keep peace & remain friendly, it would be better to not go there.

There are always conflicting interests on subjects such as this. There is never a perfect solution & we live in an imperfect world but we should endeavor to listen & understand other people's point of view and what they are coping with. We each deal with different problems & look out of different windows so our situations differ drastically at times. Its easy to sit in a chair at a computer, watching squirrels from a distance & having idealized or intellectual opinions while another person is out there wracking their brain to try to solve a problem & in a humane way at that. A person can get to the end of their rope with such matters so I believe the OP is showing remarkable reserve in his actions & consideration.

JMO. Not trying to start a fight.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Actually, I don't see that moving a few squirrels is going to have any "serious consequence" for anyone. That's really inflating the issue. The question here is mainly whether it has any serious consequence for those squirrels, and whether that even matters. To the extent that it does, how can we minimize those serious consequences, and yet serve the need that led us to do that relocation? We can do that by thinking about humane traps, timing, and habitat.

I mean, it's easier to kill these guys than capture and relocate them. We wouldn't be having this discussion if it were about rats or mosquitoes. For those people who'd like to have squirrels around for people to admire, to inspire them about the natural world, maybe I should show them instead a devastated garden, and use that to inspire them about the fruitlessness of doing gardening? Is the natural world that we admire constituted just by bushy tails, fur and pink eyes? Isn't there more to it than that?


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Whitecap: Sure you can live trap nuisance squirrels on your own property, but you technically need TPWD authorization (which you obtain by contacting them) to relocate - this is in addition to the destination property owners' permission. The point I was trying to make is that killing a problem squirrel is the only legal option available to the property owner that does not require some governmental approval. Most homeowners aren't going to mess with contacting TWPD, so are left with the choices of hiring pest control professionals that (supposedly) have this authorization, killing the animal, or breaking the law.

Local ordinances may refine the broader state requirements, but am guessing this has more to do with the way nuisance animals are captured, held, or in the broad TPWD parlance, "taken". For example, I could "take" by trapping, but not shooting on our urban lot because backyard gunfire is largely illegal within Dallas city limits.

The definition of nuisance covers "property damage", meaning in our neighborhood it would likely be harder to prove a squirrel was not a nuisance. Can't see TPWD ever wasting their time other than for an extreme flow of pelts or pile of carcasses... and for those cases, it's nice knowing they're around. Killing or relocating squirrels that are not causing problems (or legally hunted as game) would be a bad thing.

This post was edited by bostedo on Tue, May 6, 14 at 16:30


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Can you point me to the regulation that says that I "technically need TPWD authorization" to relocate squirrels? I haven't seen any legal evidence for such technical need. I have seen statutes that suggest that there isn't any, however.

See Title 31, Part 2, Chapter 65, Subchapter C, Rule 65.116 of the Texas Administrative Code, way up above. I am not aware of any "local ordinances" that pertain.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Revision: My bad - looks like you're right about admin code eliminating this requirement for nuisance squirrels in particular. Glad to know it's a legal option.
--------------------------------------------

The requirement to contact/obtain authorization from TPWD to transport a fur-bearing animal is made pretty clear on the earlier link I posted and a number of other places. I'm not a lawyer, but would guess this authority is derived from the following or similar statute:


Sec. 71.005. LICENSES REQUIRED (TP&W Code)

(c) No person may capture or possess a live fur-bearing animal for any purpose, except as otherwise authorized by this code, unless he has acquired and possesses a fur-bearing animal propagation license.


Seems they could nail you if pulled over with a live fur-bearing animal in you car and no breeder license. Am again guessing that the reason for contacting TPWD is to get an exception for transporting a nuisance animal without this license - but should definitely contact a legal pro or TPWD for clarification.

Here is a link that might be useful: TP&W Code, Title 5, Subtitle C, Chapter 71

This post was edited by bostedo on Tue, May 6, 14 at 17:50


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Thanks. But "fur bearing animal" is defined at the top of the code section as ...

"(1) "Fur-bearing animal" means wild beaver, otter, mink, ring-tailed cat, badger, skunk, raccoon, muskrat, opossum, fox, or nutria."

I promise not to get any of those and, not doing that, I'm not obviously not in compliance.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

I confess, I am an offender when it comes to increasing the squirrel population. I live under pecan trees and Have enjoyed them immensely. They helped me with humor and charm and silly antics when I was homebound as my husband recovered very slowly from a catastrophic stroke.

Still, I respect each and everyone of you and how you choose to live with them. Respectfully.....c


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Cynthia, the more I think about this, with the help of many excellent posts here, it really comes down to "respect", doesn't it? I mean, respect for my efforts in my garden, and respect for the squirrel, and what squirrels do both for us and against us. I have too much respect for these squirrels to just kill them, or not at least be thoughtful in changing their lives, when I have to.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Rats - was hoping to get my edit posted before you saw it. We've been dealing with a surge in squirrels (game) and opossums (fur-bearing) in the garden for the past couple years and I obviously had their categories mixed.

Edit: Whitecap, apologies to you too for the confusion.

This post was edited by bostedo on Tue, May 6, 14 at 19:02


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Well, squirrels have fur, but I guess they're not "fur-bearing", according to TP&W.

Now, I like possums! I set my squirrel trap with an apple and peanut butter, and found a possum raiding it after dark. He was big enough not to get caught in the trap (good thing, according to TP&W), and his long snout extracted the bait with great delicacy. In fact, he didn't even trip the trap! He came the next night to do it again, and knocked over the trap, but didn't get the bait.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

OK, it's a month later. Here's what's going on. I relocated 9 squirrels. Most in the first week or so. These, by the way, are all Fox squirrels, not Greys. The question was, how fast would my urban locale repopulate?

As of three weeks ago I was seeing NO squirrels in my yard anymore. Caught an occasional glimpse of one or two a few houses down the street. Two weeks ago, one rogue squirrel was raiding my bird feeder again (which the birds had readopted), and I promptly trapped and displaced it. None seen since. It's bit spooky, really.

So repopulation sure doesn't happen on a time scale of a month. Let's see if I can get through the summer without being reinvaded.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

It's like the rabbit and deer problem. They're all nice and cute, and you like watching them or seeing them, until they start getting into your garden or farm products.

In fact, this past weekend, I watched a squirrel tear into my coco-coir hanging basket. I didn't mind that too much. It's a replaceable item, including the plants that were in the basket.

But then I realized, it leaves the basket, climbs my fence and runs towards my roof. About 2-3 minutes later, it comes down the pole where the hanging basket is, and the pole is next to my house.

So it is making a nest somewhere nearby, possibly even in a hole it found (or more likely it made it) in my roof. I don't know if it's my roof or neighbor's roof or even a hole in a tree -- still need to look for it.
But that's the point when I have to consider, is it good to let this squirrel continue to hang around my house, or no? Even if he's not in my attic, letting it and its family grow up here will imply that they are hanging around a lot, and eventually, they may actually make a hole in my roof.

My immediate next-door neighbor actually had a house fire which was attributed to squirrels in the attic and chewing through cables.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

OK, another month gone by.

I have now trapped and relocated FIFTEEN squirrels. My wife says I'm bailing the ocean, but the numbers are very definitely decreasing.

For the past month I have had ZERO squirrel problems in my garden (in front). But I caught four in the past few days, and this was in my backyard near my bird (well, squirrel) feeder.

I have gotten a lot of experience at using the Havahart 1030 to do the job. They are excellent traps, but some strategy is needed to catch the craftiest squirrels.

Bait? Absolutely no question. Apple slice with a half teaspoon of peanut butter on it. That's like a squirrel magnet. Drives 'em nuts (pun intended).

Now, putting the bait on the trap is a matter of some delicacy. You can just set it on the tray in the middle of the trap, but many smarter squirrels will delicately lift it off, and escape with it. A smarter way to do it is to stick a couple of wooden matchsticks in the apple slice, and insert those sticks in the holes in the bait tray. That way, it's hard to get the bait off without tripping the trap.

BUT, a few really smart squirrels keep their tail straight out the back when the trip the trap. The door falls on their tail, and won't latch. So then they just back out. The way to get around this is to hang the bait off one side of the bait tray, and put a brick in front of the entrance on that side. That forces them to use the other entrance, which is slightly farther away from the bait.

I will probably stop trapping soon, as they are starting to put away food for the winter. I think this has been largely a success, as my garden has been almost entirely squirrel free. Last year they rampaged it. Now, it is easier catching the squirrels than it is to relocate them. You need to take them at least two miles away. In Texas, you have to release them on non-private land, ideally in ecologically similar places. But you can't dump all of them in the same place. So it takes me fifteen minutes to relocate one squirrel, going to different parks. That adds up, I guess, to almost four hours of relocating so far in the last few months. Sigh.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

If you ever decide to try an alternative, I've had good results with fox urine. I'm talking the hardcore hunting stuff, not the stuff you can buy at Academy. My husband gets on the roof and dabs it in areas up there. It still allows them to hang around if they want to but keeps them away from the house. We still see them in the trees and doing their tightrope routine on our fence but they leave us and the flowerbed alone for the most part. If I see them squirrely squirrlin' around doing stuff I don't like, I let my dog chase them. She never can catch them but I see it as a "natural" way to show them this place ain't a free-for-all.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

I don't have a big squirrel problem, but I do appreciate your efforts, and reading your updates and methods.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

As to fox urine, it might work, because it smells threatening to squirrels. But I've heard that it smells AWFUL to humans. Sorta like a skunk. It even repels people! So I'm not sure I want that stuff anywhere near my garden. I have heard that it isn't smart to spread it when you have clothes hanging on the line nearby.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

It does indeed stink! We use gloves to apply it and store it in a freezer bag. We mainly use it on the roof. I can't smell it when it's up there. I don't like to use it on the ground so much. Yes, it even repels people! But we like it for the roof at least. Keeps them from searching out ways into the attic. One way I've found that keeps it from being too noticeable if I need to use it around the flowerbed is to soak cotton balls in the stuff and drop them into empty pill bottles with holes punched in them and concealing them where needed. But yes, one must be careful with the stuff as it can stink like nothing else and LINGER. Especially if you get it on your hands!! I learned the hard way. Ahooo!


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Ah, fox urine for the roof! That makes a lot of sense. I guess it'll keep people off the roof as well ... In fact, if you have unoccupied space in the attic, say, above the insulation, it might be smart to put some in there as well.

But that's a good strategy with cotton balls and pill bottles. I need to keep that in mind.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Yes! My bro in law once did the pill bottle trick and threw a handful of containers into his attic where squirrels had gotten in. They reacted so quickly to the smell that as soon as the first handful was thrown up there, a squirrel dive bombed his head to try to get outta there!

The biggest downside I've found with fox urine is having to refresh the urine. But funneling the urine into a bottle with a dropper or spray pump on it helps make it less of pain to do.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

The biggest downside I've found with fox urine is having to refresh the urine.

Imagine collecting it is a bit of a downer, too. :-)

About eight fox squirrels recently finished off 100% of our orient pears and will be starting on the peaches in another few weeks. They could get to the pears through the tree canopy, so repellant barriers on the ground or trunk wouldn't work. Vicks Vaporub was suggested as a repellant by someone on the GW Pests forum. Anyone tried this? We'll be putting some on the trunks and branches of the dwarf peaches and imagine will be looking for fox urine if it doesn't work.

This post was edited by bostedo on Wed, Jul 9, 14 at 10:16


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

  • Posted by dbarron Z6/7 (Oklahoma) (My Page) on
    Wed, Jul 9, 14 at 10:31

I'm only adding fuel here...but gonna do it anyway :)
I live in the country...squirrels are pretty scarce here...it seems the major population of squirrels is any town larger than oh 40K or so, where then the squirrel population explodes.

Is it because of lack of hunting in their new territory or because of the all the human produced territory and food?

I'd like to see more squirrels when I walk in the woods and less in city parks where they are starting to look at me like 'Does he have nuts? Is he feeding us? If not, lets all jump on him and take him down for his nuts!'


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

You're anthropomorphising here. NOTHING in nature has a role. Things will be there if they can survive in that ecosystem.

Squirrels do well in urban areas because the realities of urban life remove most of their predators without removing many of their food sources.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

I agree with these comments. The main point is that urban squirrels are not "wild animals" that deserve to be left alone to their wildness. They thrive in cities because they have few predators, and because the irrigation and human leavings guarantee abundant food. They're here because we're here, and not in spite of us being here.

Yep, they really are "tree rats". Kinda cute tree rats. Or maybe furry tree roaches?

My original question, about squirrels in the urban ecosystem was about whether they actually did any good, and what ecological harm would be created if they were, um, eliminated.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

"I'm still trying to understand why, if relocated in a very similar environment (such that it understands all the food sources and the predators), at a time of year when there is lots of food and conditions are very mild, and when it hasn't left young uns' behind, and since mating is not exclusive by any means, WHY does it suffer? "

Because squirrels are social, territorial animals. It's pretty much the same as moving a single wolf a couple hundred miles away - the local pack sees it as an interloper and harasses it trying to drive it out of their territory. In a natural situation, the animal would retreat to it's own territory, but because you've released it miles from there, every time it gets driven out, it goes into another pack's territory.

It's the proverbial "out of the frying pan, into the fire" over and over and over again until the animal succumbs to hunger, injuries, or disease brought on by stress.

The humane way to deal with squirrel problems is to kill them quickly. Moving them is basically torturing them to death.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

"The humane way to deal with squirrel problems is to kill them quickly. Moving them is basically torturing them to death."

Killing them outright may be humane, but it is illegal here.

My view is that moving them smartly is basically giving them a chance. (Moving them stupidly is not.) Let's face it. Life as a squirrel is hugely stressful. Transplantation adds to that stress, but it isn't clear that the additional stress guarantees death. Squirrels are certainly highly territorial but, in an urban environment, overlapping territory is a way of life. They'll deal with it, and yes, they may die.

Again, we're NOT talking about wildlife relocation. Get over it. They aren't wildlife.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

bostedo-- the only experience I've had with Vicks vaporub is when I was trying to keep my dog away from the kitchen counters and paper towels. She got the idea that it was okay to put her paws on the edge of the kitchen counter, as well as snagging paper towels off the counter and making them her toys. So I started leaving paper towels smeared with Vicks on them as a training deterrent. It worked on the first day. She took one sniff of those paper towels and skulked off immediately :)


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

While I was reading this thread,the noon news on tv was talking about the nationwide debate over children from Hondura illegaly entering the USA. Another broadcast involved Texas ranchers wringing their hands over wild hogs destroying their crops. I was struck with similarieties how different people view squirrels,illegal imigrants and swine. Oboma is coming to Texas today raiseing funds and meeting Rick Perry. Someone suggested they send the kids home with a pet squirrel under one arm, a pig to eat under the other solving three problems and noone gets dumped on others who don't want them,trapped or shot.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

^WOW


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

They are prey.

You need to encourage wolverines, grey foxes, and pine martens.

Here is a link that might be useful: eats Squirrels!


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Oh c'mon. We're talking URBAN squirrels. You want foxes, wolverines, and martens? Geez. I have red-tailed hawks and owls, but they aren't doing anything about these guys. In fact, the owl pellets I pick up are full of bird, not squirrel.


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

smiles


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Back atcha


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

•Posted by daninthedirt 8b / HZ10 Cent. TX (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 9, 14 Geez. I have red-tailed hawks and owls, but they aren't doing anything about these guys. In fact, the owl pellets I pick up are full of bird, not squirrel.

Owls are "knock turn all" and squirrels in your neighborhood don't go out after dark for fear of stumbling into a trap. Besides that,someone has depleted the squirrel population to the extent mr Hootie would starve looking for squirrels. Stupid birds just sit out there in plain sight on a limb inviting an attack. What you need in your yard is a Mockingbird. They stay alert while singing all night and can realy make a squirrel scampper for cover. Why don't all those other lazy bums around your feeder orginize and ralley behind Ms Mockingbird to drive the squirrels into the next county?


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RE: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

Owls don't hesitate to raid squirrel nests in trees. Those nests are quite exposed, and don't offer much protection. Our Barred Owls (we have a few) may be mostly nocturnal, but they're always around in broad daylight. I see them almost every day, high up in my oaks. They are quite active well before sunset. They just aren't interested in squirrels.

No, now that I've depleted the squirrel population, I'm not expecting them to contribute to the removal task, but they're still around. The owl pellets I was referring to were those I found BEFORE I started moving squirrels.

Do I need a mockingbird that squawks all night? Uh, sorry, no. Nor a loud dog next door, nor a 3am freight train speeding past.


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