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who's trimming my trees? deer? wind?

 
kyle saunders
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Location: Sackville/Graywood, Nova Scotia
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I wish I took a picture.

This happened last year, and we assumed that one of us clipped them and forgot. But no one was there for the last month, and when I had a quick visit two days ago two cherry trees and two pears (same trees as last year) were trimmed, with the broken branches at the foot of the tree. The trees did fine in the spring, but I don't want to start over every year.

If deer were the culprit I would expect that the buds and branch tips would be missing, but these are like 2-3 foot whips trimmed off and laying on the ground. The cuts do connect, so I don't think anything took a bite out of them, but the cuts are not so clean to be a smooth machete or hatchet cut (branches are still less than a centimetre diameter) but the cuts are cleaner than if it was just snapped off.

So, 4 trees, two years in a row, shedding whole branches?

Deer
Vandalism
Wind?
I've even thought it might be neighbours pruning my trees to shape, but that's called being too optimistic I think.

I will be visiting me land on the following weekend, spending a little more time there and should remember to grab pictures this time.
 
Ben Johansen
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I've never seen it, but the description reminds me of those little bastard cutworms. This may be insightful:
http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/life/entertainment/story/2011/nov/05/110511e8-beetles-and-squirrels-may-be-pruning/63132/
 
kyle saunders
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well I really hope it's not beetles. I will check the ends, but the ends look sheared in the way your article describes squirrel damage.

I have thousands of trees on the land, and only a dozen fruit trees. Come on squirrels I'll give you a whole acre if you leave me fruit alone ha.

Thanks for that read, will update in a week.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Bryant RedHawk
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Deer do not have the ability to cut a branch neatly, they only have upper teeth so if it were deer doing the damage there would be a "horn" of bark left at the cut coinsiding with the lack of lower teeth.
Deer also will take every branch up to as high as they can stand on their back legs so if the tree looks like it was pruned to walk under height, it was most likely deer doing the pruning.
Squirrels will leave a neat cut mark straight through, no extra bark on either end of the cut. Squirrel damage shows up no matter the weather conditions.
Boring beetles will leave a hollow in the inner wood since that is what they eat, this will give the end a cupped appearance with sound bark around the cup. Beetle damage shows up after a wind or rain event as twigs on the ground.

 
Michael Cox
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Sounds like the squirrel damage we get on some of our trees here, especially our walnut.

They eat the bark on youngish stems so the rest of the branch dies. On some trees they fall to the ground, on others they hang and go brown.
 
Cristo Balete
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kyle, check for pack rats, If the cut is a clean 45 degree angle, they are out there at night getting nesting material and sometimes they drop it or give upl. Some of them cut everything for nesting material, even poisonous plants, some just like a few, some just like natives. As they come and go different plants get chomped. If you have a critter cam, or can borrow on that does night photography, you might be surprised what is out there at night
 
Rose Pinder
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Location: Otago, New Zealand
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kyle saunders wrote:
I have thousands of trees on the land, and only a dozen fruit trees. Come on squirrels I'll give you a whole acre if you leave me fruit alone ha.


Do you have possums? They prune, and they target specific trees and leave the rest alone.
 
kyle saunders
Posts: 44
Location: Sackville/Graywood, Nova Scotia
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thanks all. I am thinking it is a squirrel, but i didn't think about other rodents.

i just updated my location to say Nova Scotia, which is east coast Canada. I don't think we have pack rats here, and I've been told we have possums but I am not convinced.

i think leaving the branches behind is the unique clue here. pictures after the weekend.

trail cam is the best idea, but the tree are already cut. hard to know which trees they will get next time. maybe live rodent traps are needed tooo. for science.

 
Cristo Balete
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kyle, it would be way too unfair for you not to have pack rats or wood rats. We would all have to move there!!

http://www.pestcontrolcanada.com/Wildlife%20pests/wood_rat_pack_rat.htm

The ones that show up in my night cam seem to have a pretty predictable route they use, and they cover a lot of ground in a night. If they are out there, you'd catch them on a cam.

Walk around your property and look for nests of large mounds of sticks. Mostly they are on the ground, but I have seen some up on the lower large branches of pines and willows.
 
kyle saunders
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Location: Sackville/Graywood, Nova Scotia
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the same reason few vermin or poisonous creatures don't live here is the same reason few people do: LONG WINTER. amazing summers, formidable winter.

i do know about the predictable routes from a pet rat turned house rat. every night he would stalk our apartment for mice, the exact same route over and over. his path included over the top of the couch we used for guests, always a hard thing to explain. SO LONG AS THE RAT IS BLACK IT'S SASHA. IF IT'S NOT BLACK I'M SORRY.
 
Cristo Balete
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kyle, ha, ha, ha. Yeah, you Canadians have a relationship with ice that is impressive. Long live curling, eh?
 
kyle saunders
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Location: Sackville/Graywood, Nova Scotia
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so i finally unloaded the image from my partner's phone. only like 8 months later.

i am pretty sure the article ben linked to nailed it on the head, a squirrel lopping it up for nesting. but here are the photos, they give some context.


i said:
This happened last year, and we assumed that one of us clipped them and forgot. But no one was there for the last month, and when I had a quick visit two days ago two cherry trees and two pears (same trees as last year) were trimmed, with the broken branches at the foot of the tree. The trees did fine in the spring, but I don't want to start over every year.

If deer were the culprit I would expect that the buds and branch tips would be missing, but these are like 2-3 foot whips trimmed off and laying on the ground. The cuts do connect, so I don't think anything took a bite out of them, but the cuts are not so clean to be a smooth machete or hatchet cut (branches are still less than a centimetre diameter) but the cuts are cleaner than if it was just snapped off.

So, 4 trees, two years in a row, shedding whole branches?


spring is here, time to see if all the trees survived. pretty mild winter, should be a good chance





 
Cristo Balete
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Kyle, I would say that 45-degree-angle cut implies a rodent or wood-cutting animal of some sort, so I would put a squirrel in that category. Possibly also a badger or a beaver or pack rat who make giant nests of piles of sticks. There ought to be tooth marks, long lines of the width of the teeth as they cut the wood that would give you an idea of the dentition of the critter who did it. I can't quite see any from the photos. A night cam would be really beneficial.
 
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