Squirrel killer


#1

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.


#2

Apparently the squirlinater does work. I have those issues also as well as possums. Thanks


#3

I’ve killed a few coons this year and one possum as well, but their populations are not above average on my property this season, actually well below- they’ve always been easy for me to trap. I believe that people provide food sources for all these vermin that vastly increase their population where human beings are relatively concentrated. Garbage, pet food and bird-feeders are probably collectively responsible.

Right now, any coons are probably focused on squirrel carcasses and will leave my apples alone, but it’s almost time when they will take all my best Honeycrisps in a single night. At least they don’t bother with green fruit.


#4

I’m in the same boat Alan, I’ve so wanted to use the baffle system you’ve described in the past, but I made the mistake of starting my scaffolds way too low.

Being surrounded by timber has it’s perks, but getting stuff to harvest isn’t one of them. It’s a constant battle.

I had a fully loaded Earliblaze Apple tree that hadn’t even began to blush and one day I went to check on it and it was stripped. A couple green apples on the ground that were half eaten.

I’ve not killed one squirrel, but I would if I could! (Tip: Don’t allow your grand daughter to leave her car parked outside for a few weeks… they’ll eat the wires off the coil packs and you’ll incur a little expense getting it going again. I’d seen them dart out from under her car a couple times when I walked near but it didn’t occur to me that they were trying to do something to cause me angst in advance of any fruit being ready to destroy)

I’ve had limited success using electric fence, but only limited. It seems like the older Coons are not deterred too much any longer. I can water around the trees at evening and soak the ground rod, and an accidental touch of the fence will let me know it works, and still…

I have only one peach tree left to harvest (Madison) and I had a branch break earlier so I picked all the green peaches (about half again as big as golf balls) and let them lay on the ground thinking the wildlife would eat them before attacking the tree. Wrong! Those 75-100 peaches on the ground are now mostly red and it looks to me as if they ignore them in favor of wrecking the ones in the tree.

Just maddening.

I would like to do exactly what you said, plant a couple more and start the scaffolds higher but I’d have to do it while keeping my bride in the dark, because if she even thought I was planting another peach tree, there’d be trouble in paradise :smirk:


#5

I saw other people using the flashing and began employing it myself. You still have to watch that there is no way to get access to the top of the tree. I have also seen people cut large pvc pipes in halve and strap it back together around the tree. When it comes to animals. The only thing I see working is traps, poison and guns.


#6

Benjamin Trail XL 1100 and a 20 grain lead sandwich. I have decimated the local population to the point where squirrels barely have enough time to ponder why there arent any other squirrels around.

I live in a forest, i would put the 7 year body count somewhere around 1500. Its like fighting waves of fruit and seed hungry zombies.

Black oil sunflower seed feeder keeps them distracted enough. I chuck the non pest drops deep in the forest.


#7

I’m in the woods too. Every year I have to fight several different types of animals as they try to steal and destroy. Two weeks now I have tried to shoot some ground hogs that moved in near my house. One tried to dig under my house foundation. It doesn’t matter how many you get rid of new faces show up next year.


#8

That’s hilarious, my brother-in-law has been keeping a running tally of his squirrel kills too. He’s over 200 in the last year I think he said.

He doesn’t grow fruit or anything, but they literally are eating his pressure treated deck.


#9

I think my first year here was 350+.
If you have 5+ of them roaming around on your lawn at a time, there are a lot more than that in the trees.


#10

OK, you people who have killed several hundred in a year don’t make me feel better or worse. I’ve killed another 5 in the last 2 days and they just keep coming. My Honeycrisp are perfect and almost ripe so no matter what happens, I should get most of my crop unless a cage shy animal shows up. Later, I hope to harvest Jonagolds, Baldwins, lots of Goldrush, Jonathon, old strain Y Delicious and some Spitz. There’s a scattering of other varieties. We shall see.

It looks to me like there’s almost no acorn crop so I guess that’s why they are looking elsewhere even though by Sept they would normally be starting to bury acorns. It’s exhausting saving all these animals from the slower more painful death of starvation, but I believe that’s what I’m doing.

The last time we had this large an invasion I would see them in the trees and all over my property. The weird thing is that mostly I’m only seeing them in my traps this time. I assume every time they come into the vicinity they are drawn to the traps by the bird activity from the sunflower seeds I spread around by the traps to draw them in. We have smaller birds that have no trouble slipping inside the squirelinator traps. Wish the wires were welded closer. Also so chipmunks couldn’t slip in and out, taking the bait. I have to trap them in separate traps because it’s an epidemic year for them also.

I find that if I stick the sunfowers together with some peanut butter in a shallow container with sticks over the seeds the birds aren’t such a problem with seeds in the traps.


#11

I’ve had good luck hollowing a little spot below the squirrelinator, and throwing some black walnuts in that, and setting the trap on top. Those walnuts are like crack for squirrels. I swear they can smell them miles away. They can sure find buried walnuts that don’t belong to them!


#12

If not, sooner. “Nature abhors a vacuum.” This very postulate guarantees the battle between growers and vermin will rage on continuously and forever.
I’m on just a couple acres and directly across the street is a ten acre undeveloped lot that provides a steady influx of replacements for those ushered off to the bright light from my property. Last year their numbers seemingly tripled from year prior and I was expecting similar this year. One change I made was to up the poison bait game and start it sooner. Mid-March through to May saw the traps, bait stations and air rifle putting in major overtime hours in a concerted blitzkrieg effort. Went from standing at the kitchen sink and seeing a dozen plus rondentia-non-grata through the window to a couple months later not seeing any for a day or two. Can’t tell you how good it feels to make rounds and have no occupants or even a single nibble anywhere, but it’s almost as good as enjoying the fruit harvested from your own trees. Puts a smile on my face when I realize the lack of destruction on and around my home lately.


#13

I find nuts with a hard shell useful in general as bait, but there are no black walnut trees nearby dropping them I’ve noticed (if there were the squirrels would be over there until they were gone). Just a few years ago you could buy shelled filberts and walnuts, but stores around here no longer stock them.

A friend brought over a bag of pecans in the shell as a gift this spring and I would use a couple in the traps to have something that small birds couldn’t just crack open, but my supply has run out. The reason nuts in the shell are getting hard to find is that people like my wife and I no longer care to take the time to crack them open.

Maybe it has something to do with typing in front of a computer instead of watching TV.


#14

I would only use poison bait as a last resort. I don’t want to poison my predators. I’m so glad that the traps are currently so effective. For years I was the perfect Elmer Fud proto-type. When I first purchased my 20 gauge shotgun the squirrels would usually run up a tree when I pursued them and I could often shoot them down making a very satisfying plunk. However, I seem to have eliminated that escape tactic from the gene-pool and now they zig-zag across the ground until they are out of view. Even with a shot-gun I have trouble hitting them when they do this, especially when they are running between my nursery trees.

Will I breed a new type of squirrel that is trap adverse?


#15

We have enough predators to not worry about non-target poisoning. No pitter-patter from little feet, either, and haven’t had dogs for over several years now. They were the absolute BEST control for everything!
Can relate to the Fuddness, though. Years back I dispatched all thieves and squatters with a slingshot and some sinkers. While rabbits and mice were “amateur night” those dagnabbit squirrels were nearly impossible. Squirrels around here as sketch af. The slightest movement and poof, they disappear. With the air gun it’s easier although the wait game makes it less than fun. I’m also limited with shooting lanes, not exactly rural around here. Boy, I would so love runnin 'em down with the boomstick.


#16

Tell me about it. They see me get up from a chair through a window, and, abra-khazam, they disappear.

What poison to you use in case I get desperate at some point?

I kill trapped animals with lead free pellets to keep my fox and their kids from getting lead poison. I also tend to use lead free shot-gun shells for same reason.


#17

Ya, I just didn’t have the time or patience to invest in becoming that good with the slingshot to take those rascals down. In the rare instances they bolted up a tree, then it was the dead bell. Every time.
The poison I used was “Tomcat” bait bars (or blocks) that had the hole down the middle for anchoring. Bromethalin is the active ingredient. Many products made with it. Ratings were up there and fakespot confirmed. Seems their peanut butter recipe must be better than the competition. It seriously vanished so quick until their numbers began dwindling. Since May I’ve only baited on two different occasions. I’m quite ok with that.


#18

Not a killer yet but Grady is trying. He chased a squirrel up a tree this morning. About half way up he made the mistake of looking down. He came down much slower than he went up.


#19

I headed over to the apples (which are around the field and maybe 1/4 mile or more from the house) to mow a couple days ago and every single tree was stripped.

These loaded trees… Huge McIntosh - Nothing, Empire - nothing, Haralson - nothing, Red Delicious - nothing. And much earlier Earliblaze was stripped.

I had a handful on Honey Crisp, UltraMac, Gold Rush and MacFree and of course they’re all gone too.

I’m hoping this is just relative to no mast-crop in the timber, but when I think back to the effort and attention to spray schedule, etc. and now not one apple!?!?!

Most of these wouldn’t be ready to harvest until mid-late September and into October.

It’s happened before on a tree or two, but never all of them.

Really makes me re-think going to the effort next year. I couldn’t afford the number of traps I’d need. The poison may be the answer, IDK.


#20

What amazes me his how you who are so far away in a different climate has exactly the same situation as we have here. Did you have an unusually late freeze.

I’m sorry for your loss. The trees that I don’t look at every day aren’t giving me any fruit either.