squirrel extermination

Damages Caused by Squirrels to Forestry

It is really difficult to say whether the presence of squirrels in woodlands and in some plantations is good or bad. To some extent, squirrels play a very significant role in the overall composition and structure of forests because of their foraging behaviour. As they consume seeds and bulbs, they enhance the natural abilities of plants to germinate and regenerate. However, seed consumption can also lead to reduced regeneration of some plant species. The problem is that squirrels do not sort out which trees will benefit from them and which trees will not. As a result, squirrels can do both things making it quite difficult, really, to assess which of these two is more important.

Moreover, it was also found out that the Red squirrels that live in the forests of Alps consume at least nine different kinds of fungi during summer. The research also revealed that the same squirrels do the same during autumn but not in the other seasons. During these two seasons, Red squirrels have been observed to depend on sub-surface fungi called hypogenous as their primary food source. This dependence makes Red squirrels significant agents of fungi spore dispersal which is also beneficial to a lot of forests. Nevertheless, this does not take away the fact that squirrels can also do major damages to the same forests that they help.

For example, the most dreaded behaviour of squirrels that really convinced authorities in many parts in Europe to officially declare them as pests is debarking. Squirrels are known to strip tree barks in many orchards and forests across Europe. The primary suspects are the Red and the Grey squirrels, although some experts suggest that Ground squirrels might be part of the crime too. Debarking can kill trees no matter how big these trees are. According to some studies, even very big trees can wither to death if a ring of bark has been removed from its trunk. Squirrels nibble around horizontal tree branches and trunks to get the internal tissues of the trees which are hidden under the bark.

This tissue is called the phloem which is very rich in nutrients. Apart from the phloem, squirrels are also interested of the xylem part of the underside of the barks. These are tubular cells forming between the bark and the interior of the tree which carry the water and the minerals throughout the tree. Experts suspect that squirrels do so in order to get moisture during the hot seasons, however, the fact that squirrels also debark trees during rainy seasons sort of weakened this suspension. If you have checked my article about debarking, you will know that until this day, experts are still clueless why squirrels strip off barks from trees.

Apart from debarking, squirrels are also known to cause defoliation. Trees lose a significant amount of leaves and branches because of squirrel activities. Although defoliation is not always seen as a problem, a research conducted in 1934 by a professor in the Yale University revealed that a pack of squirrels can attack a single tree at a time. The amount of disturbance experience by the tree is enough to cause its unproductivity, or worse, its death. It was observed that squirrels can cut off at least four branches in a minute. At this rate, it can be calculated that a pair of squirrels can cut 517 little branches or twigs off the tree. The number grows even bigger when he considered the amount of leaves that a tree can lose. The pair can knock off 2685 leaves in one day! In a few days, the tree will no longer have enough leaves for photosynthesis and end up withering. Moreover, under normal circumstances, defoliation is highest during summer and unfortunately, it is also during summer that squirrels become more active.

The professor concluded his research with a suggestion. According to him, in most cases, squirrels begin to damage forestry because of water shortage. That is, they are looking for ways to extract water from other sources, which in their case, happens to be the trees. The professor thinks that combating water shortage can greatly increase the chances of the trees of being spared by squirrels. Nevertheless, he still thinks that the harms that result from the defoliation caused by squirrels simply equal the benefits that the entire forest gets from defoliation. Thus, as far as the entire forest is concerned, defoliation is not really a big problem after all.

To date, because of their official status as pests, people are actually allowed to hunt squirrels in the wild. In fact, squirrel hunting events are even sponsored by governments across Europe. Every year, thousands of squirrels die in the hands of hunters. Unfortunately, although the motive of squirrel hunting is actually good, after years of being a tradition, it has been brutally abused by many hunters too. Many squirrel-welfare organizations claim that squirrel population is fast declining these past few years and if this trend continues, squirrels might become extinct in the next few decades. However, their clamour for squirrel protection is left unheard these days because of the consensus that when left alone, squirrels will only cause more damage that what they have already caused.

We can't really say which of the two advocacies is right when we are not particularly involved in either of them. To an ordinary gardener whose tomatoes are regularly eaten by squirrels and to the owners of multi-million tree orchards or crop plantations, squirrels are undoubtedly pests that deserve to be exterminated. However, to an animal rights activist, squirrels are but innocent victims of human activities like deforestations and mining. These two opposing views continue to collide against each other and in the end; we are the final judges as to which of these views should prevail. But as of this moment, it is pretty clear what the winning side is. We really don't know until this trend will last but as of the time being, the only thing that animal rights fighters can do is to continue fighting.
squirrel extermination