Our strawberries started ripening last week, putting us on high alert against garden raiders. We’d been braced for the voles that have troubled us in the past, but we weren’t expecting trouble from the local red squirrels.Michelle looked out the window and saw a squirrel messing around in the berry patch. We went out and chased it away. “Away” in the squirrel’s mind meant a nice sunny rock on the other side of the garden fence, where he settled down to eat the berry he’d taken with him when he fled. After chasing him up a nearby tree with a few thrown rocks, I decided to get serious, and fetched my air rifle.
I took two shots. The first one hit close enough to knock him off his perch, the second at least startled him as he hid behind another tree. After that, he was too close to the water lines to risk a shot. Unfortunately, I’ve never found a multishot air rifle, at least not in my price range. Mine is a break-barrel cock, single shot, so following up on a miss takes a lot of time and effort. At least the squirrel got the message that bad things can happen to those who wander too close to the garden. I’m ready to back that lesson up.
The former owners said that they had to control squirrel population explosions in the past, but in the years we’ve been here we’ve been able to live with them in peace. I think the local minks, martens and weasels keep their numbers down. At most we have to dodge their spruce cone harvests, or put up with racket. This is the first time we’ve seen them pay attention to the garden, and such attention cannot be tolerated, obviously. We’re slow to kill what we’re not ready to eat (I’m not concerned about squirrel edibility, just portion size) so we’ve never had a reason to kill them, but in this case, I will. I’m working on the assumption that a squirrel that likes the taste of strawberries should be “discouraged” with extreme prejudice.