Much to the disappointment of bird watchers, squirrels jet in and out of trees at random, chittering and barking, disturbing the serene scenes of songbirds. For some, squirrels have their own feeder in the backyard right next to the squirrel-proof feeder a few feet away. For others, feeding squirrels disrupts the natural order of things and could lead to dependence and aggression, leading to squirrel removal and wildlife control in Madison. In some areas, feeding the squirrels is even illegal, and breaking the law carries steep fines. Find out why feeding squirrels is not the best practice for maintaining balance in any ecosystem.
Natural Food Supply
All squirrels have natural food sources in the areas where they live. Many of their natural food sources also depend on them to do a special job other than just consuming nourishment. Seeds and nuts dispersed by squirrels rely on that process to be carried away from their parent plants to grow in more spacious areas, with access to more sunlight and resources.
Food Preparation Process
Many squirrels do not hibernate through the winter months, and instead, they spend several months before the cold arrives gathering and storing their food stashes in carefully hidden places. This process is called spatial chunking and is an advanced method that squirrels use to find their nuts and seeds, or at least most of them, so that they don’t have to hibernate as many other animals do.
Dangers of Feeding Squirrels
Some people tout the goodness of feeding squirrels, saying that there is plenty of feed to share between migrating winged visitors on their long journeys and squirrels who stay all year long. By engaging in this practice, people are effectively rewriting the squirrel’s habits. Teaching squirrels to depend on an unreliable source of food can harm them in the long run.
Human Food Dependent
Many people leave out raw vegetables, nuts, and seeds for squirrels to enjoy. Some even combine the trio with nut butter to make squirrel feeders more appealing for human nature watching. This practice is doubly troublesome. Nut butters are often high in sugars and oils that squirrels are not equipped to process. Training squirrels to wait for handouts rather than gathering food as they should be for the impending winter is dangerous.
Crowding Other Feeders
Migrating birds sometimes need extra energy and water as they make their long journey to their seasonal homes to mate and roost. As squirrels become more entitled to their share of the feed, they often crowd feeders, and birds cannot share the bounty. If you are a birdwatcher, your sightings will dramatically decrease if you also choose to feed squirrels.
Aggressive Behavior Display
Even if you are not the culprit behind feeding the squirrels, you can still feel the effects of the erroneous practice. Many people make it a standard practice to feed squirrels in their backyard and then move away with little thought of what will happen to the squirrels or the new homeowners as the influx of food changes with their absence. Spoiler alert: the squirrels that have been accustomed to regular feeds will let the new homeowners know loud and clear. Squirrels may become aggressive as occupants sit outside or as pets play in the backyard. To avoid this unfortunate interaction, stop your contribution to the harmful practice right now by gradually weaning the squirrels in your area from human handouts.
If the squirrel population in your area is already accustomed to human feedings and has become aggressive or overwhelming, do not attempt to remedy the problem on your own. Seek support from professionals who can humanely mitigate the situation. Contact Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control in Madison for safe and professional squirrel removal.