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Getting nuts - squirrels do, I don't. Solutions?

 
L. Jones
Posts: 80
Location: NW Mass Zone 4 (5 for optomists)
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I've got hazels and filberts (one might be a "filazel") that are probably teenagers now. They make nuts. I've never gotten one - the squirrels make off with them all, generally when they are still quite green.

I'm having difficulty envisioning what might keep squirrels off, other than a huge and expensive metal cage all around and over the trees/bushes. I don't think I'm going there.

I already have great horned owls and red-tailed hawks working the area, and I'm rooting for them (since I gave up on chickens, at least for now - having chickens made a change in how I felt about seeing the hawks hanging around, especially since they did poof several birds, and did not have the good taste to stick to the extra roosters when doing so), but really, nothing much dents the squirrel population.

Meanwhile, butternuts of the same vintage are proving to be a difficult tree to keep alive, though resprouting from the roots has happened a few times. I think I've read of grafting them onto black walnut roots, and I begin to see why you might want to. I'm rather wishing I'd just planted black walnuts at the time. The butternuts have never gotten themselves sorted out far enough to make nuts for anyone to get.
 
Saybian Morgan
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I've been reading about air rifles all the way home on the train today, my wife said we have allot of hazel nut tree's but I've never seen a single nut. I planted peanut's in the greenhouse and all I have are empty soil blocks. I've planted sunflower seeds by the hundreds and never seen 1. I thought they never sprouted till i put some in the sprouter and they all came up. I've now learned all my years of failed germination are really the action of squirrels. I covered my black sunflower seeds with cayenne pepper and the squirrel ate them all, I put sunflowers under compost doused in urine and the squirrel was going through it within an hour. I don't want to start an endless cycle of man vs nature cuzz it never works on the broadscale but I've had my fill of the friendly squirrel who doesn't run when he see's me. He's now the reason most of my seeds are uprooted and the duck food is always pilfered. Dog's of certain breeds can hunt them but my yappy dog can only track them and get frustrated when the scent goes up a tree. I put out a gofer trap i found in the grass and filled it with peanut butter but to no avail when theres plenty of seeds in the garden. I don't think I have an epidemic but they all look like brown flashes of lightning to me, of the rodents out there I figured they were decent folk but after i was robbed of my peanuts and figured out they took my sunflowers all these years. I might have to do away with them, I wish I had an animal that I could hunt them with and therefore feed the cycle but for now I'm going to have to do it and my lapdogs will have a nice dinner.

How do you feel about becoming the hunter, live traps only displace there behavior onto someone elses property and returning them to the forest when you live in a forest is just giving them a longer walk back to my yard or someone elses. If anyone has a better solution I wouldn't mind as I don't have a problem processing livestock but I don't want to develop the habit of feeling there are pest in nature that I as a human have to eradicate. But jeez 3 years and I havn't seen a hazel nut or a sunflower.
 
L. Jones
Posts: 80
Location: NW Mass Zone 4 (5 for optomists)
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I'm fine with hunting, though this state is nutty about gun laws - though I THINK the last time I looked they still considered an air gun to be "not a gun" even when it was heavy-duty. But I haven't tested that in practice since they are really, truly nuts about it. I came from a saner state. Please don't anybody turn this into a gun/no gun thread - there's already one running elsewhere.

However, it's bailing the ocean with a gourd. There's a whole forest out there for the fluffy-tailed rats to live in, and too many of them do. I also have rats with hooves (aka bambi) all the time and black bears from time to time. The latter two are at least somewhat affected by fencing, especially with the opportunity to move along and find easier pickings elsewhere. I'm also dubious that I really want to eat these squirrels (I've seen some of the other things they eat, and it ain't all nuts and berries - dumpster-diving suits them just fine.)
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Squirrel makes good soup. They are easy to catch with the big rat traps or very basic snares.

Still won't stop the thieving...

Check your local laws...
 
Saybian Morgan
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Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
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I've got deer, bears, racoons and coyotes too but there fence'able, I don't have enough squirrels to eat I dont think. Well yes bailing the ocean with a spoon is a big job but if each spoonful taste like soup you could fill your belly while bailing to the point where you might not be hungry for hazel nuts anymore. I don't think those spring piston pellet guns make too much of a racket. Where I live there ilegal it said but then I googled hunting supplies and found them for sale in a bait and tackle shop so who knows and it's not like your in suburbia. If you've got room for hazelnuts it sounds like your forested enough to not hit anyone mowing their lawn. Just don't go waving it at the end of the driveway and non will be the wiser. I don't feel so bad now come to think of it as the dog's love rabbit offal so in essence as long as they get em and eat em it's not killing for sport or "mans agenda" which was my issue inwardly. I'm sorry you quit the poultry, we have a war between the crows and the eagles so the sky isn't as heavily filled with predators as it use to be when we let the ducks out everyday. We still get hawks and ravens but I've never seen them catch anything, I miss the owl that use to come by and scare the crap out of me by screeching behind my back.
 
John Polk
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Air rifles are good if you live in the suburbs, or have nosy neighbors. You don't need to kill the squirrels, just give them back their fear of mankind. Too many neighbors feeding the little buggers has taken away their fear, and causes them to over breed with the abundance of food available.

They can also be very destructive in their quest for food. I've seen them do a lot of damage.

 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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We don't mind sharing with the squirrels, but if they become too problematic, our plan is live traps and Brunswick Stew, which is actually quite delicious and the meat is nice and tender, not at all gamey. I haven't figured out yet how we will "put them down". My grandfater used to drown them by immersing the whole trap in a tub of water! Surely there's a better way! Anybody got any suggestions?
 
Milan Broz
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Location: Croatia
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I don't have any knowledge and experiance with squirels, but trying to imagine what would be the permaculture approach to this problem. What do they do with nuts? Storing them where? In their houses? If yes, well, then build them a house. Hundreds of houses all over the orchard, with remotely movable bottom. When they collect nuts, take it away. If this is not possible, if they store their nuts in some underground temporary storages, can this also be predicted? Prepare perfect places for storing nuts, wait them to collect it all and then take it away. Maybe not all, leave a half for them, to keep them alive for next year harvest season. Sounds silly? I told I don't know nothing about them, but maybe it's just a thought that can bring some other good idea.

Another idea, do they have something for eat except hazel nuts? If no, prune hazels when flowering, so they don't make nuts. Squirels will die out of hunger, and when they do, yo'll have nuts for youself. You will not pick them all, few squirels survived and collected some nuts, and they reproduce, and now you have hundreds of squirels again. Prune hazels again to reduce the number of squirels. Actualy, now I remember hazels can coppice quite well. I would cut all hazel bushes to the ground, and wait 2-3 years for them to grow back. Harvest nuts 1-2 years, and again cut them all to the ground. What you say?
 
Saybian Morgan
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They only eat about 15% of what they store and they forget most places they store things, so surely they might choose a location you put down but it's hard to predict it in a situation where there is excess places they can go. I know one is going under my front porch and into the walls of the house I don't think I could beat that for a storage location without making a heated motel with a door. The permaculture solution would be to get a rodent hunting dog that's trained to respect poultry, or harvesting them as a food resources. Killing them out of spite is what makes no sense.
 
Saybian Morgan
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Just after I posted i went to facegook and saw this post, silly text aside is this really going on out there? Nature is starting to really blow my mind like when I saw my vegetarian rabbits eat the stillborn baby. Maybe there are no pure vegetarians in nature because I didn't see this coming at all. If squirrels are also eating my precious worms I think I'm beyond contemplating becoming there predator now.
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Tyler Ludens
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Tree squirrels typically bury individual nuts in the soil in scattered locations. They don't store nuts in convenient nests. Some types of ground squirrels and other rodents store seeds in nest stockpiles.

 
tel jetson
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I like the squirrels-as-nut-collectors plan. apart from Ludi's point about their habits, another problem in this instance is that they chew open the nuts before they're even close to ripe, so all they would collect would be rotten bits of unripe hazels. we've got the same problem here. they eat the chestnuts, too, but somehow plenty of those still make it to maturity and into our baskets.
 
Brenda Groth
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what about bird netting wrapped around the trees?

I've also heard that you can set up things like hollow logs nearby and then allow the squirrels to do all the work, then go back and raid the stashes..after the squirrels are done, leaving just enough for the squirrels to survive on.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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With Brunswick stew, energy flows from me, to the nut trees, to the squirrels, and back to me. It doesn't get any more permaculture than that. Plus, I can use all my veggies in the stew, too. A well-rounded complete meal, all from the back yard. It doesn't get any more local than that. Anybody want some free squirrel-skin caps?
 
Brenda Groth
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did read the thread..

as I'm cutting down dead trees I'm finding acorns andnuts in hollow trees around here some some squirrels are stashing them..the nearest oak tree that produces acorns is about 1000 feet from these trees so my guess it is squirrels..although we have several different types of squirrels here..maybe yours are different than ours?
 
John Polk
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I have a neighbor who feeds the squirrels peanuts each morning. They grab one, and run around to my side yard and bury them, then go back for more. The crows sit on the phone lines watching. As soon as the squirrel goes back for seconds, the crows swoop down and steal the peanut. Kind of comical to watch the squirrels feeding the crows that he will not feed.


 
Nick Garbarino
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Location: west central Florida
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I wonder if the crows are laughing too? :rolleyes:
 
Troy Rhodes
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Shooting and trapping. Then more shooting and trapping.

"Heavy duty" pellet guns can make quite a crack noise, particularly in .177 caliber, because the pellet breaks the sound barrier. .22 Caliber is usually just below the sound barrier, so much quieter. If you get one with an integral suppresor, the neighbors will never know.

This one for example:

http://www.airgundepot.com/stoeger-x-20s-30301.html


And this will really help cut down the population to something that won't pick you clean:

http://www.victorpest.com/store/rat-control/bm205


Drill a hole in it/them, and screw it/them to a tree so you don't get the neighbor's cat. Smear with peanut butter, Check every day.

But obey the law...



Finest regards,

troy


 
Tyler Ludens
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Brenda Groth wrote:

I've also heard that you can set up things like hollow logs nearby and then allow the squirrels to do all the work, then go back and raid the stashes..after the squirrels are done, leaving just enough for the squirrels to survive on.


I think that depends on specific species of ground squirrels or pack rats. Our Fox Squirrels bury individual acorns and other seeds, they don't make stockpiles....
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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I culled 17 squirrels from my parents large garden last year - combination of air rifles and traps. They have 4 fruit trees and in the past few years haven't had a single nut from them, because the squirrels get there first.

If you are planning on culling:
- They are wiley buggers and pretty shy. I've found that stalking them is a lot less effective than simply keeping an eye on the bird feeder and the air rifle within reach of the back door. They seem more interested in the feeder in the early mornings.

- Traps are really really effective. I use a cage trap and rarely come up empty when I set it. I use the air rifle to dispatch them quickly.

I have skinned a couple out for the pot, but never got around to actually cooking them. Skinning was pretty quick and easy, and there was a reasonable amount of meat on them. I'd probably consider stewing them until the meat falls off the bone, then using the meat in something like a pie?

17 squirrels culled made very little impact on the apparent local population.

Mike
 
Renate Howard
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If they're low in calcium they'll eat wild bird eggs out of the nests. They even used to steal our chicken eggs!

Ours ate the chestnuts sometimes but other years they left them alone for us. Not sure why but they do have really prickly hulls! Our yard had a lot of trees that bore more fruit than we needed - black cherries, mulberries, maples, wild plums etc. I wonder if there was enough variety that the squirrels didn't take ALL of our nuts, or didn't bother with the ones that hurt to try to steal because they had other choices? I hear boxelders make lots of seeds that are pretty decent food value - maybe something like that would feed the squirrels and keep them away from your nuts? It also helps to clear around the trees you want to protect so they have to cross an open area with no cover to get to them. It won't stop them but it does make them a lot more vulnerable to predators on the way there and back.

In the book "Nuts About Squirrels" they said there used to be migratory hordes of squirrels much like locusts that would swarm across the USA and clear paths of destruction.

We only see an occasional squirrel here, but I just found out we've got some neighbors who eat squirrel on a regular basis. They're probably keeping the population down for us.
 
Josh Wells
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If you have enough land but don't care to hunt you could also let hunters pay by the day to come squirrel hunt. Good chance you've got some fathers and sons out there that would like to squirrel hunt but don't have a good place to go. Builds community, provides an opportunity for a kid to make memories, makes you some income, and helps keep the squirrel population in check.
 
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