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Loki

(Grey) Squirrel Infestation Management

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Hiya All

I would appreciate advice on getting on top of a significant infestation of these in semi-mature woodland/large garden environment.

12 traps (Fenn Mk4's in tunnels) in the area which pick up a few but dont seem to make in any-roads. U-Tube suggests 'baiting-stations' and picking off with air-rifles - links to/sketches/plans for home-made (so can use/recycle scrap wood/timber) would be great as would any other ways that have been found to work.

Dont really want to go the Goodnature A24 route if at all possible.

Cheers, L

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A feeder, a hide, and a good air rifle can be a very effective method of getting on top of a situation like this. I use 'hopper' type feeders with peanuts as bait, but the lift lid type can be better, especially if you use grain or maize as bait (it runs like sand in an egg timer if you're not careful !).

Let the squirrels find and then get comfy with the feeder before shooting over it. Check levels daily and wait until the bait is disappearing fast (usually happens within 4 or 5 days), then sit out with an air rifle zeroed at distance from hide to feeder. I've had 32 squirrels in 3 hours by doing this (first session on feeder on new permission)

Don't take the traps away though. They will be working for you 24/7 whilst you can only devote so much time to sitting out with the gun.

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IMHO there's no overnight solution to this problem - this time of year the trees are heavy with food for squizzers and it's going to be this way till winter hits. Bait stations with Peanuts will tempt the first few victims but they learn fast and you soon run out of the dimmer members of the group. The co2 powered traps are not proving as effective as everyone thought and when you consider the high cost of purchase they may just be uneconomical. Once winter comes and the leaves fall you should be able to start reducing significant numbers but if there are others nearby, and they will travel a couple of miles with ease, then the ones you shoot will be replaced by newcomers within weeks. Poisons are banned afaik so Air Rifle and feeders is most likely the best solution but it will be ongoing and you will need to regular forays to make any real difference. I have been shooting them this way in one small copse for 3 years now and I shoot roughly the same numbers each year so I doubt that even this technique is actually very effective - jolly good fun though!  

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Gentlemen

Thank you for your replies - appreciate your advice - taken onboard.

Capt Jones - thank you for the photo of a feeder - just what i needed to get going.

Rgds

L

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Hi Loki,

All good advice so far, also I’ve found Bodygrip traps to work well too.

I’ve tree mounted them in cages, with top entry (either peanut butter, which can be wiped on the bark of the tree to get them used to the idea, whole hazelnuts or walnuts or similar have worked well).

Once found and after one catch they seem to queue up to jump on there....I always handle and reset the trap with gloves on, to keep human scent off......I think it helps.

Location is right next to the feeder, so any wise ones that avoid the trap get the air rifle.

Good luck

Andy

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Hi Andy

Thanks for the additional advice/information - i only have 330 bodygrips so a tad wrong-sized.............what size are you using?

Any chance of a photo of your set-up please?

L

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Build a permanent fully enclosed hide with comfy seat and good rifle rest with a good view of a suitable tree 10-20yrds away and then set up a flip top...see picture....

Spread some food ...a few peanuts to start and mixed corn, whole maize works well ...on the ground below the flip top.  Fill the flip top and put a twig under the lid holding it open for the tree rats to find the bait. Once they do, there is no need to have the twig there they will help themselves.  A trail cam is helpful to give some idea of when they are visiting.  Sit in the hide with air rifle and be patient.  I have killed a lot of tree rats with this system and have eight locations constantly fed. I am averaging over 6 a week so far this year but when I irst started on this system I was killing 17-18 in a couple of hours.   Once set leave the flip top a few days, maybe a week before setting up your ambush.

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Edited by Walker570

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Trapping is by far the most effective method of reducing squirrel numbers but it takes a lot of time. Shooting is okay in addition but doesn't make a huge dent by comparison. Whatever you are doing success is largely dependent on what neighbours are doing, if you can persuade adjoining landowners to start to control by whatever method you have a much better chance. 

Forget the goodnature traps, so far they haven't lived up to expectations. If you have money for traps invest in cage traps or more Fenns. 

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If you have days when you can visit rabbit traps work baited with peanuts, but need inspecting daily.

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2 hours ago, ClemFandango said:

Trapping is by far the most effective method of reducing squirrel numbers but it takes a lot of time. Shooting is okay in addition but doesn't make a huge dent by comparison. Whatever you are doing success is largely dependent on what neighbours are doing, if you can persuade adjoining landowners to start to control by whatever method you have a much better chance. 

Forget the goodnature traps, so far they haven't lived up to expectations. If you have money for traps invest in cage traps or more Fenns. 

Both are effective.  I have recently joined a new small syndicate and the one small wood was crawling with them. I arranged to go and sort them out with the 22RF. Didn't need my flip tops as they were feeding on pheasant feeders kept going year round.  Visited three times and on 44 kills.  I went again this last Tuesday and had just three turn up in five hours. I think my time and patience has made a big dent in the local population BUT they will build up again. Squirrel control needs tenacity as they need constant control.  I sat for four hours this week where I have shot a lot on some whole maize tipped at the base of a large ash tree and din't see a sign of one but later on checking my trail cams, a single squirrel ventured down the tree.

This same tree I shot seven in 40 mins only a few weeks ago.   Yes, shooting does have a big effect.   BUT  I also run nine traps as well :good:they are all live cage traps converted to also feed the small songbirds which act as decoys for the squirrels.  The traps are not as effective as my shooting set ups where my best shooting result was 19 in a couple of hours on a flip top. Couldn't do that with a trap.

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Just my experience. Shooting for fun. Trapping for control. 

at the end of the day a dead squirrel is a dead squirrel. 

I suppose it depends on how much time you have to sit in a hide versus how many traps you could run in the same amount of hours and how many acres you are covering. The last squirrel trapping job I did was a line of 120 traps. 30 locations single pre baited hoppers and 4 traps at each location, checked twice a day, the first week catching I was getting something like 180 a day, can't do that with an airgun. 

Mind you I did carry a rimfire and would shoot the odd squirrel as I was doing my rounds but as you can imagine that was small change compared to the traps. 

That was in a 600 acre wood though and it took several hours to service the traps, basically all day every day while they were set to catch but I was getting paid. 

In the end you get to a point where your success rate drops but you never fully empty a wood or area as unless everyone around you is doing the same there is always immigration. 

 

What county are you in Loki? I bet there would be people on here that would help you out checking traps in exchange for sitting in a hide for a few hours. 

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50 minutes ago, ClemFandango said:

Just my experience. Shooting for fun. Trapping for control. 

at the end of the day a dead squirrel is a dead squirrel. 

I suppose it depends on how much time you have to sit in a hide versus how many traps you could run in the same amount of hours and how many acres you are covering. The last squirrel trapping job I did was a line of 120 traps. 30 locations single pre baited hoppers and 4 traps at each location, checked twice a day, the first week catching I was getting something like 180 a day, can't do that with an airgun. 

Mind you I did carry a rimfire and would shoot the odd squirrel as I was doing my rounds but as you can imagine that was small change compared to the traps. 

That was in a 600 acre wood though and it took several hours to service the traps, basically all day every day while they were set to catch but I was getting paid. 

In the end you get to a point where your success rate drops but you never fully empty a wood or area as unless everyone around you is doing the same there is always immigration. 

 

What county are you in Loki? I bet there would be people on here that would help you out checking traps in exchange for sitting in a hide for a few hours. 

100%  I fortunately have the time and the patience and rarely a day goes by that I don't have a rifle in my hands after tree rats..  As you say in a commercial situation, then a trap line works well. In a situation where your just covering a few acres and maybe one or two locations then shooting over feeders or flip tops also is very effective, but you do need the time and if you have a job to go to you may only manage a few hours a week and don't have time to visit traps twice a day minimum, you may not have time for this.    I do know from my results in the last thre years that a combination of shooting and trapping does work but you have to keep at it.  My own small 10 acre wood I class as squirrel free and should one dare to venture in it will be despatched within 48hrs from first sighting (one this week).  I have two woods I cover where on my initial visits I was shooting double figures, I now struggle to shoot two or three in a session from break of day to mid afternoon. They are just not there.

You have to keep whacking and stacking using whatever ingenious means you can.  I have one set where I spotted some in some large trees about 60yrds from one of my high seats. No where to put a flip top so I just tipped a bucket full of whole maize at the base of the tree.  Sat in high seat with 17HMR recently had seven there in less than an hour but now down to one at a time appearing on the trail cam. That is on the edge of a very large block of forestry but they will still keep coming I am sure.

Edited by Walker570

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13 hours ago, ClemFandango said:

Just my experience. Shooting for fun. Trapping for control. 

at the end of the day a dead squirrel is a dead squirrel. 

I suppose it depends on how much time you have to sit in a hide versus how many traps you could run in the same amount of hours and how many acres you are covering. The last squirrel trapping job I did was a line of 120 traps. 30 locations single pre baited hoppers and 4 traps at each location, checked twice a day, the first week catching I was getting something like 180 a day, can't do that with an airgun. 

Mind you I did carry a rimfire and would shoot the odd squirrel as I was doing my rounds but as you can imagine that was small change compared to the traps. 

That was in a 600 acre wood though and it took several hours to service the traps, basically all day every day while they were set to catch but I was getting paid. 

In the end you get to a point where your success rate drops but you never fully empty a wood or area as unless everyone around you is doing the same there is always immigration. 

 

What county are you in Loki? I bet there would be people on here that would help you out checking traps in exchange for sitting in a hide for a few hours. 

Shooting for fun, not the best choice of words on an open forum 🤔

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15 hours ago, ClemFandango said:

Just my experience. Shooting for fun. Trapping for control. 

at the end of the day a dead squirrel is a dead squirrel. 

I suppose it depends on how much time you have to sit in a hide versus how many traps you could run in the same amount of hours and how many acres you are covering. The last squirrel trapping job I did was a line of 120 traps. 30 locations single pre baited hoppers and 4 traps at each location, checked twice a day, the first week catching I was getting something like 180 a day, can't do that with an airgun. 

Mind you I did carry a rimfire and would shoot the odd squirrel as I was doing my rounds but as you can imagine that was small change compared to the traps. 

That was in a 600 acre wood though and it took several hours to service the traps, basically all day every day while they were set to catch but I was getting paid. 

In the end you get to a point where your success rate drops but you never fully empty a wood or area as unless everyone around you is doing the same there is always immigration. 

 

What county are you in Loki? I bet there would be people on here that would help you out checking traps in exchange for sitting in a hide for a few hours. 

Some number of traps that Clem, and the difference of being paid and having a few hours a week.

Interestingly there is a squirrel group operating down south, shooting on feeders, along side a full time trapper, the shooters are taking more squirrels and they've found there is still tree damage in the trappers area compared with the areas being shot.

Loki, problem now is natural food, you might not get much on feeders for the next few months as the squirrels enjoy natures bounty, but think big with your feeders so there not running out, that way once they start coming they'll keep coming.

Happy to say the wood behind me still only has the odd squirrel in it, took over two years but rairly see one now and the song birds have increased massively, it was crawling with them, I keep expecting a load more to turn up but not yet.

 

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Gentlemen,

Grateful for continuing replies - all experience/advice provides more information for an informed long-term plan.

Seems that more Mk 4 Fenns (18 at the moment so I understand), with several bait-stations would be the way forward.

If you are using the Kania 2000, tree-mounted traps - how effective (given price over Fenns, but tunnels needed) are these please?

Cheers

L

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6 hours ago, Mice! said:

Some number of traps that Clem, and the difference of being paid and having a few hours a week.

Interestingly there is a squirrel group operating down south, shooting on feeders, along side a full time trapper, the shooters are taking more squirrels and they've found there is still tree damage in the trappers area compared with the areas being shot.

Loki, problem now is natural food, you might not get much on feeders for the next few months as the squirrels enjoy natures bounty, but think big with your feeders so there not running out, that way once they start coming they'll keep coming.

Happy to say the wood behind me still only has the odd squirrel in it, took over two years but rairly see one now and the song birds have increased massively, it was crawling with them, I keep expecting a load more to turn up but not yet.

 

That's interesting Mice. 

I'd love to know are the shooters and trapper in the same wood? How many shooters to the one trapper and how many traps is he running? How many hours is the trapper doing versus the combined hours of the shooters? 

Kania traps are pretty good but they can still only catch one squirrel until they are reset. I haven't found them any more efficient than fenn or cage traps. 

 

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19 hours ago, ClemFandango said:

I'd love to know are the shooters and trapper in the same wood? How many shooters to the one trapper and how many traps is he running? How many hours is the trapper doing versus the combined hours of the shooters? 

Don't know all the details, just that there is a full time trapper and a good few shooters doing it voluntarily, there close by but not the same wood. Covering a far chunk of land. Seems the shooters are having better results bringing the squirrels to feeders, although things have slowed down now with the natural foods available.

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1 hour ago, Mice! said:

Don't know all the details, just that there is a full time trapper and a good few shooters doing it voluntarily, there close by but not the same wood. Covering a far chunk of land. Seems the shooters are having better results bringing the squirrels to feeders, although things have slowed down now with the natural foods available.

Maybe thinned them out so not so many there to show anyway.  My 10 acre wood is now squirrel free other than the occasional intruder who lasts about 48hrs.  I have five other blocks from 1000 acres down to 200acres where I have seriously thinned them out and instead of seeing ten or fifteen or more coming to feed I am only seeing twos and threes and sometimes non.  I have trail cams on all the sets so know what is coming in.  I do not think you can precisely say one way is better than the other as the locations vary considerably.  Just keep whacking and stacking 'em:yes::good:

I planned on five a week as a new years resulution and have a fair few in hand should things go quiet(6.4 at the moment   193 when should be 150 ) ..... which they have this last 14 days.  Must try harder.

Edited by Walker570

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Just a thought. How far do you think a feeding station/pheasant feeder pulls these tree rats ?  I am interested because one spot I have borders some considerable acreage of woodland and I am considering putting a couple of flip tops just up hedgerows leading from the wood  and overlooked by one or more of my high seats.  How far apart should I spread them along the wood side ?    100...200..300..400yrds ?

I am not going to be able to get access to the woodland which is a pity.

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4 hours ago, Mice! said:

Don't know all the details, just that there is a full time trapper and a good few shooters doing it voluntarily, there close by but not the same wood. Covering a far chunk of land. Seems the shooters are having better results bringing the squirrels to feeders, although things have slowed down now with the natural foods available.

It's difficult to say that one or the other is more effective then. Could be one trapper with half a dozen traps versus twenty people shooting. What was the trapping method as well? I always find trapping to feed hoppers more effective than just blind trapping. Did the trapper have a prebait period? that makes a difference too? 

Is it a proper scientific study or just some people doing some things? 

 

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Are you baiting the tunnels? Peanut butter on the fenn trap plate should do the trick and tends to ensure a clean kill as their head and neck are in the right spot. 

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3 hours ago, Walker570 said:

Just a thought. How far do you think a feeding station/pheasant feeder pulls these tree rats ?  I am interested because one spot I have borders some considerable acreage of woodland and I am considering putting a couple of flip tops just up hedgerows leading from the wood  and overlooked by one or more of my high seats.  How far apart should I spread them along the wood side ?    100...200..300..400yrds ?

I am not going to be able to get access to the woodland which is a pity.

I guess that would depend on food availability.  I bet they'd travel further when there is less food available naturally. Trapping that big wood by the end of the trapping week the numbers were wayning so I'd flip the traps back to prebait and refill the hoppers, after a week on prebait I'd flip the traps back to catching and it was almost like I hadn't had the first weeks squirrels. I bet a good few of those were just infill taking up the vacuum. How far they'd come though would be anybody's guess. 

I never tried it and I have heard of a few people who have but with no real evidence of whether it works or not but something like aniseed or another scent in that situation might help? 

I think if it were me I might set up my stations few and far apart to start with and see how they go, if I were getting a lot to each station then site some in between, I suppose the more you have along a boundary like that the longer you could rest one while you were shooting one if you know what I mean. 

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3 hours ago, ClemFandango said:

It's difficult to say that one or the other is more effective then. Could be one trapper with half a dozen traps versus twenty people shooting. What was the trapping method as well? I always find trapping to feed hoppers more effective than just blind trapping. Did the trapper have a prebait period? that makes a difference too? 

Is it a proper scientific study or just some people doing some things? 

 

I don't know anything about the trapping methods, just that there is a full time trapper and a lot more shooters, one of the estates did a tree survey and found tree damage in the trappers area but not the area being shot.

Shooting on feeders ranging in size from 20-100kg, they are taking serious numbers of squirrels the area must be crawling with them.

I don't doubt that trapping works, but there probably aren't many people running 120 traps year round.

6 hours ago, Walker570 said:

Just a thought. How far do you think a feeding station/pheasant feeder pulls these tree rats ?  I am interested because one spot I have borders some considerable acreage of woodland and I am considering putting a couple of flip tops just up hedgerows leading from the wood  and overlooked by one or more of my high seats.  How far apart should I spread them along the wood side ?    100...200..300..400yrds ?

I am not going to be able to get access to the woodland which is a pity.

If you can put up a couple of feeders you can be sure something will find them.

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