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How do Animals Damage Your Trees in Winter?

Categories: Blog | Plant Health Care

While it is amazing to see how winter wildlife prepares, and survives the brutal cold, snow, and ice of Wisconsin winters, it is also a nuisance in the spring to see how trees and animals affect each other in the winter. Animals such as, deer, squirrels, rabbits, and chipmunks are just a few of the creatures active year-round and live in the cold.

During the spring, and summer we are often protecting those plants most susceptible in our gardens. We add wire around our hydrangeas and rose bushes to prevent deer from chomping on new growth, buds, and fully developed segments. Similarly, we inspect our gardens for holes, and burrows where rabbits, moles, and voles are seeking inhabitance. We tend to take preemptive measures towards protecting our smaller plants, and often overlook protecting our trees in winter.

Rutting season or bark rubbing season?

During the early fall, male deer are on the move to partake in rutting season. With over a million deer inhabiting the state of Wisconsin, it is no surprise that deer are one of the most prominent threats to your trees during Fall and early Winter. Rutting season is when male deer rub their antlers against trees in a ploy to wear off their velvet. Thin barked trees, such as, birch and redbud are more susceptible to damage from deer than other trees.

If these thin barked trees experience bark loss surrounding the entire circumference of a section of the trunk, they are more susceptible to girdling. If a tree experiences girdling, it is likely to die. Most trees can recover from this damage but will lose limbs above the aggravated area.

You’re probably wondering what girdling is exactly. Well, when an animal rubs the bark off the entire circumference of a tree, the energy transfers up and down the tree can be cut off.

What about rabbits, squirrels, moles and voles?

Deer damage the upper half of the trunk, leaving the bottom half for those smaller animals to antagonize. The lower damage to a tree often goes unnoticed due to most of it occurring under the surface.  Voles chewing on bark under the surface damage the tree drastically, so its health slowly declines. Rabbit damage is more noticeable, as they chew at bark above the surface level, and leave visible damage to the bark’s exterior.

With snow building up quickly in the state of Wisconsin, damage to the bottom of a tree’s trunk can go unnoticed. Voles damage is often not spotted due to it taking place below the surface. However, rabbits damage is spotted during the springtime, when external factors could’ve had the opportunity to threaten the health of your tree. We, at Wachtel Tree Science have means of protecting your trees all winter long. If you currently live on a property that receives several critter visitors, consider reaching out to our team of certified arborists. Our arborists will choose to either, make physical barriers, wrap your trees, or move the mulch around your tree. Each of these tactics will assist in protecting your trees from winter wildlife. Contact us at Wachtel Tree Science to ensure the safety of your tree until, what seems to be a far away, spring comes. 

2019-12-18T11:19:02-05:00 December 18th, 2019|