Small Woodland Owners' Group

Grey Squirrels

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Postby carlight » Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:02 pm

hi . am new here , and to 'putas/keyboards/forums , so please forgive errors in etiket .

i care for bout 30 acres young plantations ,with lots of mature sq.habitat nearby .

7-20 years maturity . 4yrs ago the sq.damage was appaling , think last june's attacks ,also bad .

control of sq. pop. would have to be continuous ,and is impractable/too costly.

why are some oaks/beech , in a sq. attack area left alone ? is this genetic quality of the tree ...?or just chance ?

also would be interested to know of folk's opinion of sq. resistant species .

round here (s,devon) seems ash .and 'wild cherry' and field maple(juvenile) are good .lime is known as good -trouble is everthing grazes it .


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Postby tracy » Wed Dec 31, 2008 8:01 pm

Hi Carlight, nice to see you here and I am sure you will get some opinions on this soon! I am afraid I don't know....! Hope you enjoy the site


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Postby John - SEPS » Fri Jan 02, 2009 5:27 pm

Sorry to hear about the damage. There is always a level of risk involved when planting new woodlands in areas heavily populated with grey squirrels.

Control doesn’t have to be expensive ‘minimum intervention pest management’ can be implemented and control doesn’t have to take place every year. It sometimes comes down to damage limitation and predicting the damage based on food availability, spring breeding success etc. See if you can get a grant form the forestry commission, to pay for some of the control….

Or Woodland design can help reduce damage: Maximise ground cover – 50% Ground cover height 30cm (depend on canopy layer), apply fertiliser and leave the nettles and brambles grow….

Damage is commonly caused by young squirrels, possibly triggered by agonistic behaviour (social behaviour related to fighting, such as aggressive or submissive behaviours), so some of the tree would by chance have missed being damaged in this behaviour. Another reason they might target specific trees is the phloem volume because of the nutritional benefits.

I know the venerable species in the south are; beach venerable for 30 years; sycamore, Oak, popular, sweet chestnut, larch, Norway spruce and Scots pine a bit less. Stay clear of these species if you plan to re-plant.

John - SEPS
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Postby Catweazle » Sat Jan 03, 2009 1:05 am

If you need someone to come along and shoot grey squirrels and rabbits for you then I recommend , there is a section called Land Offered where you can put a request.

I'm a shooter myself, have been for years, but it was too much work to control the huge amount of squirrels moving in from adjoining woodland. I now have two old fellas who go up there and shoot squirrels and rabbits, discrete and insured. They drop the rabbits they can't eat into sheltered housing where they are apparently much enjoyed.

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Postby Colin » Sat Jan 10, 2009 9:47 pm


Little question, why the heck did any of you buy woodland? Didn't you know there might be animals in it?

Don't like animals, huh?

Quote "I know this can be a pretty emotive issue to a lot of people. I can see both sides of it even as a woodland manager the can be very endearing little critters but they do do a lot of damage to woodland crops, and this has been one of the worst on record for damage."

Don't dress it up as science , there is no timber value to be preserved. If you want to kill something then just do it.

This is amenity woodland and the wild life add greatly to the value of our land. There is no monetary value from the timber, come to terms with that.

If you want to kill something then go ahead, you have bought the licence.


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Postby greyman » Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:10 am


You are, of course, entittled to your own opion but I did not buy my wood as 'amenity' wood. Yes I'm not a full time forester: yes they may have thier endearing side but squirrels do damage woodland. I haven't noticed anyone here dressing it up as science.As for your statement that there is not monetary value from the timber, I think you are wrong. As I coppice my way though our woods I will be felling selected trees - Oak, Ash etc - either for conversion or charcoal. If you want to sit in your wood enjoying it as it is there's no crime in that - more power to you - BUT other people have different views and that is all to the good. As for me - and I suspect others here would agree - we may only be custodians of our woods but we do have a duty to look after and manage them as well as enjoy them. I for one will be looking to control the squirrels and any other animal and human that looks as if it will endanger my coppice, trees or fauna.

So to sum up - join the community, be part of it, have your different thoughts and opionions but please don't harang others who post here - make your point without the emotive language.

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Postby Catweazle » Wed Jan 14, 2009 12:15 am

Colin, you assume too much. I manage a coppice woodland that was profitable for the Earls of Darnley for hundreds of years. The coppice stools are hundreds of years old and there are some enormous standard trees, both the old standards and the coppice regrowth will suffer badly unless squirrels, and in the case of regrowth, rabbits and deer are controlled.

My woods border a 75 acre Woodland Trust area, I haven't seen any pest control there but it's "Amenity Woodland" and it doesn't need it, that doesn't stop hundreds of squirrels coming over the fence to dine on my Chestnut though. On another boundary there is a 350 acre "Community Openspace" owned by the Forestry Commission, it boasts the largest wildflower meadow in the South East, it also supports a huge rabbit population who spend the cold winter months digging up bluebells in my woods and nibbling bark from young trees.

I need pest control and regard it as part of managing a woodland for some income, the fact that I can get it done for free by a couple of retired chaps is a bonus that saves me considerable money.

If you still have doubts about the need to control Grey Squirrels I suggest you read this article on the Conservation Issues website:

In particular, look at the sections regarding the destruction of rare woodland plants and the effects on native birds, also note that they have been placed on the global top 100 most destructive invasive species.

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Postby greyman » Wed Jan 14, 2009 12:40 am

Lights blue touch-paper - stands well back....

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Postby Catweazle » Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:06 pm

"Lights blue touch-paper - stands well back...."

Dynamite is not an approved pest control method in the UK....


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Postby carlight » Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:03 pm

hi . was prop a bit disingenuous for me to say that juvenile field maple resistant , the sq's love it , once that furrowed bark matures .

also , i saw sq. damage on an ash , today , but seems quite unusual . the limes and cherries still immune .

Many thanks for the input ;-

As far as shooting goes ,have talked with a professional , who believes that the sq. population will return to the standard very soon .....

And , sorry to be contentious , but i do have issues with the -predicting damage based on food availability - spring breeding success - , thesis .( Only mention this in the hope that positive outcomes may arise .) If the beech , oak , hazel (ash?) could all get it together to not fruit in the same year ... might help reduce sq.pop .

And , whilst i am at it (!) - what's with - maximise ground cover ??? Am a bit perturbed . - apply fertilizer ? encourage brambles ?

For me , the irony is , that , now the trees in the older plantations are big enough to withstand the brambles ,they have a sufficient canopy to shade out the brambles . And are of the correct size for sq. damage to be lethal .

Have so far lost more trees to brambles , than to sq's.

Just for fun , i did leave part of a plantation with it's groundcover/brambles , well over half the trees succumbed to the brambles , and the rest are as sq'ed as per usual .

Don't suppose this is very constructive , sorry .I do suffer from a chip on shuolder re book learning v. actual experience .

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