If you have a berry tree in your garden, a bird feeder, or like to spend your time in nature, no doubt you will come across the local grey squirrels. While they may appear cute with their big eyes and fluffy tails these creatures cause detrimental economic damage and huge problems for the timber industry. They have even been named among the top 100 most harmful invasive species in the world!
The pesky grey squirrels cause huge amounts of damage by gnawing and stripping off the bark of almost any broadleaf trees such as Poplar, Beech, and Oak. The bark acts as the protective skin of the tree and removing a large section around its circumference will kill the tree. They generally target trees between 10 and 40 years old, leaving the younger saplings alone mainly because they cannot support the squirrel’s weight, equally the trees that are older than 40 years also escape as the bark is too tough to gnaw through.
Two of the most traditional hardwood timber trees English Elm and common Ash have now been lost! It is estimated that around £10 million a year of timber is lost due to grey squirrels running wild! So, what is being done to stop the little rascals?
Sacrificial planting! One way to slow down the Grey Squirrels is by sacrificial planting. Sycamore trees are being planted to divert their attention away from the more favoured trees. This is the most humane way to deal with these creatures as many gardeners find them as a source of entertainment and don’t wish to bring harm to them!
So how can you protect your garden from the grey squirrel?
If you have a vegetable or fruit patch in your garden, you may want to invest in a fruit cage. By simply using a metal mesh to create a cage you can ensure your goods are well protected. Avoid plastic meshes as the squirrels will be able to bite their way through these.
Just like scarecrows are used to scare off the crows, other visuals can be used to scare off unwanted squirrels from your garden. Most commonly, decoy birds of prey are used. Squirrels are clever little animals and they will get used to the deterrent and realise it isn’t a threat. Making sure you move the decoy around every so often should throw them off.
Protect Your Bird Feeders.
If you do want to start feeding the birds in your garden, try making sure you purchase one with a cage around it that still allows birds to fly in too. Greasing the pole to the bird feeder will make it harder for our troublesome friends to get to it.