Wildlife Damage Control/Squirrel Problem


How do I stop squirrels from chewing on my deck. They are chewing the wood on the sides as well as the railings.

Squirrel Gnawing

Squirrels are rodents and rodents gnaw. Why they started gnawing on this particular item or at this area is anybodyís guess. Here are some possibilities. 1. pregnancy. Pregnant females often donít eat a few days prior to giving birth. So they gnaw.  2. Gnawing is normal and the surface was attractive. 3. Gnawing to enter an area. 4. Gnawing because something is tasty there.

How to resolve this gnawing.  I trust you donít have a bird feeder on the property. If you do learn how to modify it so you donít feed squirrels http://www.icwdm.org/Prevention/birdfeeders.aspx   

Option 1. Population reduction.  For info visit http://icwdm.org/handbook/rodents/TreeSquirrels.asp   make sure it is legal in your state. Donít assume that translocation is legal or humane. http://icwdm.org/ControlMethods/Relocation.aspx

Option 2. Cover the area with thick aluminum flashing to protect it from further damage.  11/4 inch hardware cloth will also work provided it is the stiffer American steel. Smearing asphalt tar over a surface (note it will stain) can also stop gnawing.  There is also a polybutene goo that you can use to smear over the location, called Hot foot etc. Problem is it being sticky will attract dirt and can be hard to remove from the surface unless you pretreat the surface to prevent the goo from impregnating it. Think of it being like molasses being poured over the place. Will it stop the squirrel at that spot. YES. But it is icky.

Option 3. Prevent access by cutting back tree branches and/or installing porcupine wire.
Option 4. Over the counter repellents, like Ropelģ MAY work. But note caveats above. Remember, sometimes squirrels stop gnawing whether you use repellents or not.  Be sure to follow the directions. Donít bother with ultrasonics (most animals canít hear in the ultrasonic range anyway for details see http://www.icwdm.org/ControlMethods/ultrasound.aspx   or mothballs and other so called repellents like urines etc.  unless you just have to feel good about doing something and spending money.

Option 5. Hire a professional. Visit http://icwdm.org/VendorsService/default.aspx to get tips on hire to hire a qualified company.

Feel free to write back if you have any further questions. Remember there is no magic in this business.

Disclaimer: As with any activity, remember that animal damage control comes with its own risks and problems which can include but are not limited to legalities, health threats, and personal liabilities. Be sure to follow all state laws governing wildlife and make sure you have a thorough understanding on how to resolve the animal damage complaint. My advice is only as good as your understanding of me and my understanding of your situation. If you have any questions be sure to write back.  

Wildlife Damage Control

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Stephen M. Vantassel


I can assist the public in responding to all kinds of wildlife related problems in the United States and Canada, including birds, mice, rats, skunks, raccoons, beavers, opossums, voles, moles, chipmunks, woodchucks, pocket gophers, and more. Please note that I specialize in vertebrates only, (animals with a backbone). While learning about insects, other experts should be consulted with insect questions. My passion is wildlife damage identification, for if you don't know what animal is causing the problem, you can't begin to resolve it responsibly. My latest book is the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook 3rd edition (2012). It is available at my site http://wildlifecontrolconsultant.com or by visiting my various vendors. (A simple internet search on the book's title will bring you to them).


I was a full time animal damage controller for over 5 years and a part-time animal damage controller for over 10. I have been a volunteer for AllExperts.com for over 5 years under the Pest Control Category, when they graciously created a new category that better suited my experience (I don't answer bug questions). I was a licensed animal controller in both Massachusetts, Connecticut and Nebraska. I presently run the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, http://icwdm.org and http://wildlifecontrolconsultant.com.

National Wildlife Control Operators Association, Community Integrated Pest Management group at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

I have published multiple books, including The Wildlife Removal Handbook rev. ed. and the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook 3rd ed. Additionally, I have written dozens of articles which have appeared in Wildlife Control Technology Magazine, Fur-Fish & Game, The Trapper, The Fur Taker, The Probe, and others. I have co-authored wildlife related publications for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension program and was responsible for revising the handbook designed for the Pest Controllers looking to obtain their category 14 license.

I was a trapper education instructor for the state of Massachusetts, and have attended a variety of conferences and trainings, including but not limited to Vertebrate Pest Conference, Wildlife Damage Management Conference, National Wildlife Control Association national conference, Wildlife Control Technology Conference. I have not only attended these meetings but have also been privileged to have been a speaker. I have received the National Wildlife Control Operators Association Educator of the Year Award in 2008 and 2012.

Awards and Honors
Certified Wildlife Control Operator (2001), Academy Certified Professional (2008), Master NWCOA Instructor (2012)

Past/Present Clients
I have helped thousands of people around the U. S. through my work at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Wildlife Control Consultant. Specific tasks include: Ghost writing, Research, Expert Witness, Writing Training Manuals, Public speaking at Conferences, Workshops, and Trainings

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