Squirrels eating my pears

Asked August 10, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

I have 2 pear trees in my back yard - not sure of the variety, very small, red on the sunny side, green on the shady side - maybe seckel? They are very sweet when ripe, but I'm wondering if the squirrels will save me any. The ground beneath the trees is littered with bits of pears, many half-eaten or with one bite out of them, along with the whole pears they have knocked off as they pillage. I would almost prefer that they ate the whole pear - to make a meal, they have to waste dozens of them.
I chase them away when I see them, but I don't have time to stand guard. So far, they have only eaten from the higher branches, but I would like to pick the ones I can reach. Is it too early to pick pears (mid-August in Vermont)? Any tricks to hold off my furry foes until the pears are ready? Thanks for any advice.

Chittenden County Vermont

3 Responses

We do not have good solution to your problem of squirrels eating your pears. Please note that due to the squirrels’ climbing and jumping ability, it is virtually impossible to keep them out of trees. However, the link below is to a Fact Sheet from Penn State University that covers a number of topics related to damage control. These include Exclusion, Habitat Modification, Repellants, Toxicants, Trapping and other methods. The following are highlights from this fact sheet:

· Under Exclusion: Prevent squirrels from climbing power poles and individual trees by encircling them with a 2-foot-wide collar of metal 6 feet off the ground.

· Under Habitat Modification: Can also consider an alternate food source like wiring an ear of corn to a tree or fence post away from where the pear trees are.

· Under Repellants: taste repellent capsaicin, can be applied to fruit trees and vegetable crops only before the fruit or vegetable is on, or after it is off, the plant.

The following is the link to the fact sheet:

http://extension.psu.edu/natural-resources/wildlife/wildlife-nuisance-and-damage/mammals/wildlife-damage-control-10-tree-squirrels/extension_publication_file

We could not find anything on Vermont laws regarding the removal of nuisance squirrels. However, please note that in most states it is not legal to live trap and relocate a squirrel due to the possibility of spreading disease and the possibility of relocating the animal to an unfamiliar environment where it will die. Your local Extension office could provide an answer on Vermont laws.

The lethal option may also be considered. But please note the following from the University of Nebraska article Control of Tree Squirrel Damage:

· Squirrels that are causing damage in rural areas can be safely removed by shooting with a shotgun, small-caliber rifle, or pellet gun. Squirrel calls can improve hunting success. Avoid shooting squirrels in urban areas because of the ordinances against discharging firearms and obvious dangers to other animals and people. Other squirrels are likely to move into an area vacated by another squirrel.

The following is the link to the article:

http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=1146

We are also referencing the following web page from the University of Vermont Extension Service regarding Controlling Animal Pests in the Flower Garden. This article also has a discussion of live trapping and other control techniques.

http://pss.uvm.edu/ppp/articles/anmalpests.htm





Thanks for your advice about the squirrels. What do you think about picking the pears now (August 12 in Vermont)? Is it too early? Is there a way to tell if they are ready to pick?

Thanks again.

Figuring out when pears are ripe is not always easy! This link to Stark Bros. (fruit tree and plant growers) is a pretty good explanation.

http://www.starkbros.com/growing-guide/article/pears-ready-to-harvest/

A more detailed explanation can be found here:

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/node/413