Who is "pruning" my blueberries and Euonymus americanus?

Asked May 24, 2016, 9:24 AM EDT

Hi, In early April, I purchased three blueberries and about 3 weeks ago three Euonymus americanus. I have planted one of the blueberries. The other two are in their pots more or less where I plan to plant them and near several other blueberries, most of which I have had for more than 10 years. Shortly after I planted the first new blueberry, I noticed that someone, most likely four-legged, was "pruning" the stems off about an inch above the ground and leaving them lying on the ground. Recently, the same thing has happened with one of those still in its pot. The very unripe blueberries have mostly disappeared, and leaves may have been nipped off, but there weren't many leaves to begin with, and so far the new growth has not been touched. No one has ever bothered the older blueberries, except to eat the ripe berries before I get to them, and they have not been bothered this year. Last weekend, I got two of the Euonymus in the ground and yesterday evening I noticed that one of them had been similarly pruned, but the leaves were definitely not touched. We do not have deer. We do have rabbits and squirrels, and in the last few months a gray fox has been wondering around and howling in front of our house in the pre-dawn hours. Our neighbor's dog has also been in our yard more often lately, but she has been around for several years. She does dig holes (she gets in our yard by digging under the fence), but otherwise has not caused damage. Who do you think is doing this unwanted and unneeded pruning? Thanks for your thoughts!

Anne Arundel County Maryland

1 Response

Sounds like you may be dealing with some type of wildlife such as rabbits, squirrel, or deer. Rabbits https://www.extension.umd.edu/hgic/rabbits and squirrels https://www.extension.umd.edu/hgic/squirrels-0 are rodents and make cuts at a 45 degree angle. If you suspect squirrels and you feed the birds, you may want to stop for a bit as this can be an attractant.
Deer damage has a torn ragged appearance. https://www.extension.umd.edu/hgic/deer You can look for this.
All you can do is protect plants with floating row cover or use fencing and barriers.