It is possible to protect fruit trees from squirrels without killing them but it requires about 6’ of fairly straight trunk before first branches and almost 3 ft of aluminum flashing stapled as seamlessly as possible starting immediately below first branches painted with grease and oil. At some sites the baffles have to reach the ground.
It took me years to figure this out and my own orchard has trees with branches too low to accomplish this. Right now, in a normal year, I’d be defending bushels of plums, pears, nectarines and peaches along with the light crop of apples that is all I have to defend this year after a snow storm on Mother’s Day and a subsequent hard freeze destroyed most of my crop.
In a year that feels a lot like the first chapter of the apocalypse, it isn’t surprising that unusually late, hard frosts should be followed by a squirrel epidemic and a high level of bird predation. I’m grateful that at least the yellow jacket issue is so far at a low level and the birds are at least not bad on my property. But the squirrels!
It also took me years to learn to effectively trap squirrel and the acquisition of a few squirlinater traps which I’ve learned squirrels can consistently be lured into with the spread of black oil sunflower seeds that increase in concentration right into to traps. A few hands full invested outside the traps encourages birds that squirrels seem to take notice of and come to see what they are feeding on.
I’m not even seeing squirrel in my forest trees but they keep magically appearing in my traps placed near my nice crop of ripening Honeycrisp and Jonagold apples. I don’t believe I will be harvesting any of them if I don’t keep trapping the squirrels, but all the killing takes a toll.
I guess lethal traps would be less disturbing than having to destroy the live animals, which I do with a high powered pellet gun.
I’ve started a new orchard which I will keep open from encroaching nursery trees so I can make baffles work, but it will be a few more years before it is adequately productive to take down the trees I’m defending now. I look forward to a more peaceful retirement. War is hell, even when there is no fear of being killed.