Thursday, July 18, 2019

Attack of the tree-killing squirrels!

October 16, 2014  

by Tony Tucci

Those frisky, seemingly fun-loving squirrels skittering over the branches in your yard might actually be killing your trees.

It might sound nuts, but acorns aren ‘t the only thing the squirrels are after. They’re eating the bark, said Maggie Ambrosino, an Oak Hill arborist, and that’s killing the tree branches. She said she is seeing more damage this year than ever before.

We can blame it on the drought. Squirrels need water, and one source of water is the tree’s vascular system.

Ambrosino, owner of Brown and Green Tree Care, said the squirrels remove the bark all around a branch, exposing the vascular system, which carries water and nutrients. The branch then dies.

City of Austin Arborist Michael Embesi said that while the squirrels are killing tree branches, he has never known an entire tree to be killed. He said cedar elms are suffering the most damage, but other varieties, including oaks, are high on the list.

Embesi said trapping and relocating the squirrels is probably the best remedy.

“It’s somewhat of a mystery,” Embesi said.

“Squirrels and trees co-exist. There are times when they cause a problem, like when they steal pecans. Most of the time people try to relocate them, but it’s a short-term solution.”


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  1. By Bill Scheick, October 19, 2014

    In “Tree-eating squirrels” (Oct. 16) arborist Michael Embesi is reported to recommend “trapping and relocating the squirrels.” If only such relocations were so simple, both practically and legally. As hunted (game) animals in Texas, squirrels are protected by various state and county regulations.
    While the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code “prohibits the trapping, transporting or transplantation of game animals without a permit issued by the department,” it exempts squirrels “under certain circumstances.” “No permit is physically issued for the relocation of nuisance squirrels,” Karen Pianka explained to me while she served as the Wildlife Permits Coordinator at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. But, she added, whoever transports the animals must carry written permission from the owner of the property where the squirrels are to be released.
    Ms. Pianka pointed, as well, to other requirements found in the Texas Administrative Code, also referred to as Proclamations. These elaborations of state laws indicate that squirrel traps must be labeled “with the owner’s name, street address, city, and telephone number.” Also, the traps cannot injure the squirrels, which must be released within 24 hours of their capture.

    Bill Scheick
    Oak Hill


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