Friday, August 23, 2013

Squirrelly advice for PMPs

Fox and gray squirrels are important pests in urban areas
through much of the U.S.  Fox squirrels, like this one, can
cause significant damage to shade trees as well as homes.
There's a new resource on squirrel management that you might be interested in if you do wildlife control.  Dr. Steven Vantassel, wildlife specialist with the University of Nebraska, held a webinar last week on the subject of tree squirrels. It runs about 60 minutes long and addresses the biology and behavior of several species of tree squirrels, as well as techniques for squirrel-proofing your home (and bird feeders), hazing, repelling and trapping nuisance squirrels.

Besides entering homes, squirrels can do significant damage to trees, as I've learned recently at my house.  A few weeks ago, after returning home from an out of town trip, I noticed something wasn’t quite right with the cedar elm tree in my backyard.  An entire branch of the tree appeared to be dead.  Inspection close to the trunk revealed that the bark had been peeled off, chewed off actually, girdling the entire branch.  The reason squirrels do this isn't fully clear, but is one of the topics covered in Vantassel's informative presentation.

View of squirrel damage to large branches on
a cedar elm tree in the winter, when damage is
most obvious.
Most squirrels are cavity nesters and prefer to shelter in a structure over their usual  breezy nest sites in trees. Squirrels are continually testing the corners and weak spots in my own home.

Wildlife damage management is an increasing important niche market for pest control professionals.  Trapping, excluding and extracting squirrels is not very difficult technically, but does requires a proficiency with ladders, attention to detail, and knowledge about squirrel biology and behavior.  This webinar will help you with the biology and control part.  The rest is up to you.