When you live on a piece of land you get to notice small changes and things out of the ordinary. Today, walking by the river I immediately noticed that a young oak tree of about 15-20 years old had been completely debarked by squirrels over the last couple of days. Once the bark and the cambium layer under the bark has been removed the trees circulation is effectively cut off. Moisture can’t move up to the leaves from the roots and sap can’t move downwards resulting in the death of the tree. Have a look at this video.
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I don’t think anyone is quite sure why squirrels do this. This behaviour is very prevalent in young males, some sort of showing off. Not too dissimilar from some ‘yoof’ impressing his friends by spraying graffiti perhaps? We planted a lot of trees to mark the Millenium and this year the grey squirrels really have attacked them. We will have to remove a lot of dead beach, silver birch, chestnut and oak that have been killed by the greys in this manner. With are mission to plant many more native and specimen trees at Gliffaes to build upon the fantastic collection we have already these guys don’t help at all.
On the Hunt
Autumn is the time squirrels come down from the trees to gather up nuts to bury for the winter. This presents the squirrel hunter with the ideal chance to shoot them but no matter how hard you trap and shoot them there always seem to be plenty about. I have yet to able to present the chef with such neatly dressed squirrels for him to prepare into pasties and I am also not sure how big the take up would be. Stand by Squirrels – you have been warned!
This website has a lot of information on grey squirrel control.
The pasty picture is copied from an article in the Guardian.