K-State Extension Wildlife Management
Tree Squirrel Prevention and Control

The southern flying squirrel is fully protected in Kansas. Normally, fox and gray squirrels may be legally taken as game animals from June 1 through December 31. They are protected by a closed season the rest of the year.

Because using firearms within city limits generally is prohibited, shooting squirrels is not recommended in urban areas. But if it is legal and open season, do not waste animals that have to be removed. They can provide an inexpensive and delicious meal.

If squirrels are damaging a house, watch to see how they are getting in and trim tree limbs that are within jumping distance (5 to 6 feet) of the house. If squirrels are traveling along a power, cable TV, or telephone line, slit a piece of plastic PVC pipe, 24 inches long, and place it over the wire. When a squirrel tries to cross it, the pipe rotates and the animal loses its footing. Be sure to contact the local power company before modifying power lines.

If a squirrel appears in the basement, it has probably come down the chimney and out the furnace or fireplace damper opening. A squirrel in a fireplace or attached chimney cannot get out on its own and must be removed from above or below. If the squirrel entered through the chimney flue, it may have built a nest or brought in material. Check for this obstruction and remove it. Cover chimneys or attic vents with 1⁄2-inch mesh screen.

When restricting access, make sure not to trap a squirrel inside because of possible damage to the home’s interior. If you find a squirrel in an attic or another part of a house, do not try to chase it out. Open doors or windows and allow the squirrel to find its own way out instead. If this is unsuccessful, bait a live or cage trap, at least 9 by 9 by 24 inches, with peanut butter or nut meats. Once the squirrel is trapped, release it outdoors. Nest boxes provide homes for squirrels, reducing their need to enter yours. Nest boxes should be made of untreated wood or metal because squirrels often destroy boxes made of plastic plywood or particle board by gnawing on them.

Tree Squirrels Around Bird Feeders

Homeowners sometimes have problems keeping the squirrels out of bird feeders. Tree squirrels should be considered part of the fauna and enjoyed along with the birds. Squirrels are often distracted by feeding them ear or shelled corn away from or on the ground near suspended bird feeders. Place bird feeders at least 8 feet away and 6 feet off the ground. Plastic piping offers a new way to outsmart squirrels. Place this pipe over ropes or wires suspending feeders so squirrels cannot get a good footing. You can also use baffles to keep squirrels from climbing on wires leading to feeders. Clear plastic baffles are available from companies that sell bird feeders, or you can make your own. Remember, baffles must be big enough so squirrels cannot crawl over them.

Exclusion

Squirrels enter houses through many natural or created openings such as holes along the soffits where boards have rotted out, unscreened attic vents, uncapped chimneys, broken or open windows and doors, and electrical wire and utility pipe openings. Never knowingly tolerate a squirrel in your house. Preventive maintenance is the best defense against unwelcome squirrels and other wildlife. Periodically inspect for potential entrances and make necessary repairs. Make sure squirrels or other animals are out of the attic before sealing entrances because if you seal them in the attic, they can do even more damage trying to escape. Cover the insides of attic vents and similar openings with 1⁄2-inch hardware cloth; repair rotten boards along soffits or behind eaves troughs; and replace broken windows, cap chimneys and fill electrical-wire and utility-pipe openings. Squirrelproof valuable trees by placing 2-foot wide metal bands around them, 6 feet off the ground. Trim overhanging branches to prevent access.

Protect valuable crops by building a fence of 1-inch mesh wire. The fence should be at least 30 inches high and extend 6 inches below ground, with an additional 6 inches bent outward at a 90-degree angle to discourage burrowing. Set at least two electrified strands, one 2 to 6 inches above ground and the other at fence height, off the fence about 3 inches.

Protect newly planted bulbs with 1-inch mesh poultry wire. Dig a trench slightly deeper than the desired depth of planting and fit the poultry wire in the bottom. Add dirt and plant the bulbs. Place another strip of poultry wire over the plantings so that the bulbs are completely encased, and finish covering with dirt.

To stop squirrels from stripping the bark off ornamental trees and shrubs, wrap trees with metal sheeting or protect them with squirrel baffles, as you would a bird-feeder pole. Tree wrap keeps squirrels from gnawing on bark by keeping them out of the tree. Wrap all trees within branch-to-branch jumping distance. This method works well on trees near feeders or around your house. Prune trees near the house that give squirrels access to the roof. Remember to allow for tree growth when wrapping. If you have a continuous tree canopy that allows squirrels easy movement, you will have to find other means of control. Feeding is the easiest way to prevent squirrels from stripping tree bark. Scatter shelled or cob field corn on the ground near the trees or bird feeder, or place it on a shallow feeding platform. There are also squirrel feeders that hang or impale cob corn. Squirrels are fond of sunflower seeds and nuts, but nuts can get very expensive, especially when most end up buried rather than eaten. Collect black walnuts, butternuts, hickory nuts or acorns in the fall and store them in mesh bags to use later.