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How can I get rid of the very prolific squirrels that ravage my backyard and torment the other wildlife?

Cece Nunn

Some people say getting rid of squirrels completely is impossible. Even if you somehow get rid of all the squirrels in your yard, squirrels from neighboring properties will find your trees.

“It’s really a losing proposition to fight Mother Nature,” said Ken Wells, consumer horticulture agent for the New Hanover County Cooperative Extension Service. “Sooner or later, she’ll win.”

Depending on how much time and money you want to put into the fight, however, there might be options for cutting the population down or keeping them from bothering other animals. In many places, discharging firearms for the purpose of killing squirrels in your yard is illegal or against community rules, so put the gun down and try some of these suggestions:

A LITTLE HELP FROM A FURRY FRIEND: If it’s just squirrels you don’t like, a pet dog or cat might be able to help. But don’t get a pet just for that reason because there’s no guarantee the pet you choose will be of any help at all.

REMOVAL SERVICES: If they’re making pests of themselves by gnawing on your house and outdoor furniture, or you just really want their population cut down, you can try calling someone to trap them and take them away. Jimmy English, owner of Wildlife Removal Service of Wilmington, says homeowners could pay between $200 and $300 for the removal of 25 to 30 squirrels. The cost depends on how many trips he has to make from their house out to the country to release the squirrels. His number is (910) 791-5917. And he’s not the only person who will do it. More removal services are listed in the phone book and online.

HUMANE WAYS: If you don’t want them in your yard but are concerned about their welfare, the Humane Society has tips for squirrel-proofing your home and a lengthy document describing ways to solve other squirrel related problems. The organization says trapping and releasing them doesn’t work because new squirrels just move in to take the place of those displaced, who often die in their new surroundings.

COMING INSIDE: When it comes to squirrels getting in the house, “any attempt to displace squirrels is best made using sight, sound, and smell,” according to the Humane Society, which also offers the following suggestions:

* Put a bright light in the attic and leave it on.

* Put a strong-smelling substance such as cider vinegar soaked rags in the attic.

* Set up a battery-powered radio or similar sound source and leave it playing around the clock. Go to the attic and speak loudly. Sometimes just the presence of a person will make a squirrel want to move along.

SQUIRREL REPELLANT: Matt Woisin, an employee at Progressive Gardens on Oleander Drive, suggests Critter Ridder at a cost of $19.95 for two pounds. The ingredients of this granular substance are oil of black pepper, piperine and capsaicin, which irritate animals when they touch or taste the product.

FOR THE BIRDS: If you just don’t want them stealing all your bird seed, try using safflower seeds, said Jill Peleuses, co-owner of Wild Bird & Garden at Hanover Center. “The birds love it, but the squirrels don’t,” she said. Weight-sensitive “squirrel-proof” bird feeders are available starting at $25, Peleuses said. Baffles, which look like lampshades, also can be attached to poles of bird feeders to help keep squirrels away.

Greasing a bird feeder with Vaseline is another option some people have tried.

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5 Responses to “ How can I get rid of the very prolific squirrels that ravage my backyard and torment the other wildlife?”

  1. On September 8, 2010 at 2:54 pm Wayne wrote:

    “torment the other wildlife” — other than “stealing” bird feed, how do the squirrels torment other wildlife? Inquiring minds want to know.

  2. On September 10, 2010 at 10:46 am Cece Nunn wrote:

    I found a story about a squirrel taunting a cat at this address, http://www.school-for-champions.com/behavior/squirrels.htm, and a friend of mine says she is 100 percent certain squirrels were trying to hit her in the head with green pine cones.

  3. On September 13, 2010 at 8:45 am Richard Eller wrote:

    I have had a squirrel problem for years counting as many as 12 in the backyard at one time. They have kept us from ever getting the first pecan off our tree plus one year when I attempted planting a garden they ruined everything even the watermelons!
    I read many years ago that London, England was over run with them. When the city set up a poisoning program there was a huge outcry from the people. So they changed tactics. They started running articles in the papers and called the squirrels TREE RATS as they is exactly where they are. A couple years later the residents of London was more than happy when a removal program was started.

  4. On October 17, 2010 at 4:09 pm Robin Hall wrote:

    Use a spray bottle to apply vinegar to the base of the trees in your yard and anything else you are trying to keep them off of.
    This should work very well until it rains and then you must re-apply.

  5. On March 29, 2014 at 2:49 pm Cynthia wrote:

    Safflower seeds in the bird feeder have not worked for me. I tried it this week and today I’m watching them help themselves. Cayenne pepper doesn’t bother them either. Grrrr……

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