Pine tree, bark loss, and squirrels

Asked February 4, 2019, 8:53 AM EST


We live on Oak Str. Our very large pine has had 8 lower and larger branches that have had their underbellies scraped clean by our squirrels--we think. When I've researched online, it said flashing was an option unless nearby trees provide direct access, which we have. We use Bear's Tree Service. We have a black walnut next to it, so I'm concerned that if we lose the pine, the squirrels might go after the black walnut. Thank you.

Cass County North Dakota

4 Responses

Good afternoon,

I've seen squirrels strip bark from many deciduous trees (mostly maples and lindens), but I don't know that I've seen them take the bark from black walnut. I'm not saying they can't or won't do that, just that I've never seen it happen.

In reading your narrative above, I'm not really sure what your question is. Can you please state it more directly? Thanks.

Best regards,

Sorry for the lack of clarity. Here's what I want to know. We love our pine and our black walnut.
1. Is it probable we will lose the pine tree since some of the pine's branches' under bellies are bark-less?
2. Is there anything we can do to save it now or in the spring?
3, Do I need to do anything to protect the black walnut?

We've tried to catch and release the squirrels, but there are so many. Thank you.

Good morning,

Thanks for the clarification.

Regarding the pine branches, it really depends on the extent of the damage. If a branch or stem loses bark from more than (about) half the circumference, that branch or stem is likely to die. Maybe not right away, but within a couple of years. If it loses between a third and a half, chances of dying are about 50-50. If less than one-third of the bark has been removed, then that branch or stem is likely to recover.

If a tree loses less than about one-fourth of its branches/needles, it'll be fine. It won't even be stressed. As it loses addition foliage, though it will become more and more stressed. So, it really depends on how much of the tree crown will be lost.

Unfortunately, there's really nothing you can do other than try to prevent additional damage. Painting the wounded branches with pruning paint won't help, and might even cause additional harm. About all you can do is wait and see.

Regarding the black walnut, I don't know that I've ever seen squirrels cause damage to that type of tree. Regardless, I really don't know what you could do. I believe that the squirrels are stripping bark in order to get food or nutrients that they can't find elsewhere. If you fed them some other food, that might take pressure off of the trees. But that's just a guess on my part.

I wish I could give you a clearer answer. Best wishes with your trees,

Thank you. This really helps us plan for the health of the trees.