Squirrel pruning white oak

Asked April 8, 2019, 2:11 PM EDT

We have a squirrel intent on pruning every budding branch on the white oak next to our house and dropping the prunings on our front steps, short walk and driveway and surrounding area. The small branches gnawed off are typically 6 to 12 inches long, are very branched and therefore have many many terminal buds. It has dropped more than a thousand short branches in the last week or so, 900 since I started counting. All are the ends of branches, none are pieces without terminal buds. The part chewed through is typically about 1/4 inch thick. This is not a time there are any acorns, it is NOT building a nest and never picks up what it gnaws off. This is not an open grown, spreading oak, but a tall, very narrow old tree with not that much to sacrifice. I'm thinking there may have been some of this activity last year, which might account for the very branched ends on each piece this year, but never like this. Can you tell me whether you have seen this behavior before? I'm assuming my only solution is to pay someone to trap the squirrel and take it far away. Washington Grove, MD 20880

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

There are no easy solutions when it comes to wildlife. Based on your photos and description this looks like normal squirrel behavior. Squirrels use clipped branches for nests and this should not harm the tree. The nest may be located elsewhere and not in your tree. There is not much you can do. If you trap the squirrel, most likely others will move in to take their place. Also, a permit from DNR is required to trap squirrels. Anecdotally, one of the consultants in our office has a pin oak and squirrels have clipped branches from the tree too. The branches are also littered on the ground under the tree.

Here is more information on squirrels http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/squirrels