Squirrel invasion

OBSERVER Photo by Gene Pauszek Pictured are squirrels, which can sometimes cause a good deal of damage.

Those graceful acrobats with the luxurious tails in the Animal Kingdom are starting to become a royal pain.

Bears are known for raiding garbage sites, campsites, bee hives and occasionally crops, but they are most likely to avoid densely populated areas. Same thing with deer. They cause the majority of vehicle/animal collisions, destroy crops, and decorative foliage, but they avoid people. (Note there are some exceptions, like Van Buren some other areas in Fredonia and Dunkirk as well as Jamestown.) Raccoons are smaller versions of bears, and can wreck havoc on vineyards and fields of corn. Mice are home invaders when the temperature drops, and moles wreck lawns and gardens, but squirrels, especially inside the city limits are earning a bad reputation.

Last summer, while taking an afternoon nap after a hot fishing trip, I was rudely awakened by the sound of a plate hitting the floor downstairs. I wondered if someone had come in to my house? Calling out to see if the wife came home from work early, I received no reply. Entering the kitchen I spied a small plate on the ground, but no one around. Pondering the predicament, I spied that the kitchen window screen had a hole in the corner about the size of a baseball. The hole was pushed from the outside in. No trace evidence like feathers or fur. When My wife returned I told her about it and she was concerned a bird had flew inside the house, and would eventually startle her. I didn’t think so.

Procrastination prevented the screen repair and a few days later, I once again heard noise downstairs. Arming myself with a baseball bat, I made my way downstairs, and caught the culprit leaving the scene. A large gray squirrel. I thought I would have a little fun with the wife and purchased a cheap stuffed toy squirrel and placed it inside the window by the hole. The wife was not amused. Later in the day I checked the toy and discovered that the ears, and arms had been chewed off. I then closed the inside window and while sitting at the kitchen table with my back to the wall, drinking coffee, I watched on two occasions as the squirrel climbed the outside of my house, entered the screen hole and tried to, again enter my house. I finally made my presence be known in loud fashion and the squirrel took off.

I was telling my tale to my brother Ray, and he commented that squirrels had raided his veggie garden and ate up all of his tomatoes. Later in the week I heard a similar story from a woman who had the same problem with her tomatoes. I checked on the Internet and found that squirrels typically like nuts, grains, seeds and various fruits. Tomatoes were not on the menu.

In addition, I frequently throw old bread, pizza or meat, etc outside away from the house for the birds. I have a family of boisterous crows that dispose of this stuff, but I have seen squirrels running away with pizza and stale bread also. After the home invasion, I stopped feeding the birds.

Squirrels can cause a lot of damage also. Two years in a row, we have had a power outage in our neighborhood, during the summer. The first time I heard a noise outside and when I investigated, I found a dead squirrel carcass on the lawn under the power lines. A repair crew arrived in short order and explained that sometimes squirrels, while walking the wires, will make contact with the line and fry the powerlines, getting killed in the process.

Squirrels have also been known to climb up inside the hood of parked vehicles to seek shelter and warmth. They like to chew on the wiring. Finding their way inside a house, through the chimney or window, can result in a lot of damage too. When they become a problem, you can enlist the aid of varmint control or animal control for help. Most any trapper has the skills to assist too.

For the do-it-yourselfers, most hardware, or farm supply stores sell live traps and many tool places sell sonic chasers, ultrasonic pest repellent, live traps, and solar powered night predator lights. In the city limits, squirrels are everywhere. Pets are usually inside, or on leashes, so except for hawks, squirrels have few predators, and they have multiple litters per year. Like the ones in the car insurance commercial, squirrels are not all that cute and charming anymore.