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harvestmann

Bon Bons have failed me!

alan haigh
11 years ago

When a client complained the squirrels were taking his peaches I asked him if he wanted to try PB+PP bon bons and he agreed. I made up a batch using about 1.5 pounds of PB with as much PP as the PB could hold and still hold together (barely).

I used light sandwhich bags to tape them to branches of his trees telling him to follow up with replacements as they dissappeared. This was done and the squirrels consumed all the bon bons to no apparent affect.

I suppose there's a chance that the squirrel population absorbed the losses and kept coming, but that's an awful lot of bon bons in a not too bad squirrel year. I am reluctant to continue to endorse this method even if my experiment was far too limited to be definitive.

Anyone else out there suffer similar dissappointment? Has anyone fed them to a trapped animal yet? That's what I really want to hear about.

Comments (75)

  • olpea
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Some bad news to report. The test specimen is very ill, and this before ever administering a bon bon.

    I had been feeding and watering it daily, and intended to introduce the bon bons today. I purchased some fresh PoP to that end. However, I went down this morning, and the animal was lethargic. Checked again a little while later, and it was very listless. I don't expect it to live through the day.

    It had been eating and drinking regularly. Yesterday, I placed a small piece of wood (non-treated pine) through the wire of its cage. I did this thinking to relieve some of the rodent's boredom by allowing it something to chew. The wood extended all the way through the cage, sticking out both sides. This morning, when I went down to give it fresh water, I found the squirrel had chewed part of the wood (as I intended) but it had also moved the wood by backing one end out of the wire, and reasserting it in a lower "rung", perhaps trying to build a nest. It then appeared as if it might be "stuck" under the wood. I pulled the wood out, but the animal seemed somewhat unresponsive at that point.

    I don't know if the animal was truly trapped under the wood, or if it crawled under and didn't want to come out because it was already ill. Either way, this experiment has ended in failure.

    I intend to try again.

  • alan haigh
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    If the bon bons work, I expect it will be quite a rapid death. Maybe next time you should just forgo acclimating it and go straight to the bon bons. Kindof think you already thought of that but I just had to throw it out anyway.

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  • pappy_r
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    olpea, Earlier this year, I was using POP and getting no definate responses, but I did have some of them eaten.
    meanwhile, I got a havaheart type trap, and caught one. I couldn't shoot it outside, so I took it into the garage.
    For some reason, I left it there over-night, and the next morning, it was in bad shape, pretty much unresponsive. I presumed it had been eating the bon bons, and shot it to get it out of it's misery, and reuse the trap.
    I caught about one squirrel every two days, and as I have to carry the trap in darkness to keep the squirrel-lover next door from seeing it or the squirrel, I thought it best to find a way to dispatch it quietly, and efficiently.
    I got a 1/2" pvc pipe about a foot long, and threaded a doubled length of stranded 18 ga wire, so I had a loop coming out one end, and enough wire out the other to get a good grip on.
    I was surprised by how easy it was to put it over the animal's head, and how quiet, and fast it's demise.
    Then wrapped in a grocery bag, into the freezer til trash day.

  • olpea
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    For those interested, I am conducting another test. While not complete, the experiment if far enough along to offer some preliminary observations.

    Since I'm actually trying to do research, I've decided to outline it in a somewhat detailed and formal write-up.

    BACKGROUND:

    Squirrels have long been a major pest to fruit growers. This is especially true for backyard growers with small orchards in urban and suburban settings. The unusual combination of an abundance of food with few natural predators encourages large populations of squirrels, of which tree fruit can be a summertime food staple. To successfully grow tree fruit requires dedication. For the serious fruit grower, it can take a significant amount of time, and money. As anyone who has cared and nurtured crop has observed, there is often a significant amount of emotional capital involved as well. All to often a fruit grower nurtures a crop through the growing season, only to find squirrels have destroyed the entire crop, just before harvest. Squirrels accomplish this by:

    1. simply removing the whole crop
    2. leaving some crop, but taking "bites" out of individual fruits
    3. knocking fruit off before it's ripe

    In many cases experience of the squirrels' past behavior causes growers to pick their harvest before it is ripe, to prevent squirrels from stealing it. in this case, while the grower may obtain a premature harvest, fruit quality suffers.

    Growers have relied on many methods to prevent fruit damage by squirrels. Each have their advantages and disadvantages. As it's not the scope of this experiment, these individual methods will not be discussed except in summary:

    1. Exclusion methods- Ex. electric fencing, flashing on trunks, netting. In general, these methods have not been met with wide success. Squirrels are agile, small and deft. They are determined creatures when it comes to a favored food source, and will generally find an entry point in the barrier, or make one.

    2. Offering squirrels an alternate food source during harvest- This method is generally not successful. Fruit seems to be as beloved by squirrels as it is by humans.

    3. Scaring the squirrels away- Ex. plastic owls, lights, sounds, radios, etc. Poor results have been noted from these methods. Squirrels quickly become acclimated to the scare methods, rendering them wholly ineffective.

    4. Shooting squirrels. Ex. shotgun, 22 cal., pellet gun. Some locales allow the discharge of firearms, some allow only pellet guns, and some allow neither. Where allowed, these methods can reduce squirrel populations, but it can be extremely time consuming.

    5. Trapping- This can be done with live traps, or lethal traps such as Kania, and connibear traps. This can be successful, but can be time consuming. Traps can be expensive. Live traps are legal to use almost ubiquitously throughout the U.S. However, many states prohibit the relocation of trapped wildlife, as do wildlife specialists, so the animals must be destroyed. Kansas extension services recommends destruction by CO2 asphyxiation. Leg hold traps may also be an option, but the author no experience with this method. Leg hold traps are illegal in some states due to humane concerns.

    6. Poisoning/baiting- Unfortunately, there are no poison baits labeled for squirrels that are available to homeowners. This has left homeowners to their own devices to make homemade baits. One such bait is a mixture of peanut butter and Plaster of Paris and rolled into small balls, called bon bons (hereafter called bait). This bait is currently popular with backyard fruit growers and is even used internationally. There is some debate in the fruit growing community regarding this bait. The experiment outlined below focuses on some questions outlined in that debate.

    OBJECTIVES OF EXPERIMENT:

    1. Attempt to determine if the bait is toxic to squirrels

    2. If the bait is toxic, determine a reasonable estimate of time between bait ingestion and mortality.

    3. Try to determine the mode of action of the bait. That is some believe the bait causes mortality by gastric blockage. Others surmise death is brought on by hypercalcemia (elevated blood calcium). While it is beyond the scope of this experiment to determine exact cause of death, the author should be able to observe gastric blockage. If that is case, it would rule out hypercalcemia. In the event, no gastric blockage is found, hypercalcemia would be the likely cause of death.

    4. Determine if the bait causes undo pain and suffering to the animal. This may affect the decision on whether or not a grower decides to use the bait. As almost any form of death is painful to mammals, it becomes difficult to measure the relative suffering of one form of death over another. Most squirrels die in nature from sickness, starvation, or predators. As the author has never witnessed any of these occurrences, it becomes difficult to determine suffering from death of the bait, relative to more natural causes of demise they may face in nature. Added to the difficulty, is that no brain scans will be done, so evaluations must be made on external observations only. However, the author will do the best he can.

    LIMITATIONS OF THE EXPERIMENT:

    1. This experiment involves only 2 specimens. A treatment specimen (a specimen which is offered the bait) and a control specimen. Since the experiment involves such a small statistical sample, the results are not as statistically relevant as if a larger specimen sample was used.

    2. There are different types of Plaster of Paris. Using a different type of Plaster of Paris may (though not likely) yield a different result.

    3. Using a different ratio of Plaster of Paris to peanut butter, may yield a different result.

    SET UP OF EXPERIMENT:

    One squirrel was captured on Sunday, September 27th. This squirrel was the treatment specimen. Another squirrel was captured on Wednesday, September 30th, which was the control specimen. Both squirrels were kept in live traps for the experiment. Water and food dishes were placed in their cages. The squirrels did not require anesthesia to move them, or the dishes into their cages. Water was replenished twice daily. The squirrels were both male specimens of slightly smaller size. For the treatment squirrel, bait was introduced immediately and not removed until completion of the forth day of the test. For the control specimen, fresh acorns were kept in the cage at all times. Bait was mixed using exactly 1/2 cup of peanut butter and 1/2 cup of Plaster of Paris. From this mixture 6 evenly sized bon bons were fashioned. All the mix was used making the 6 bon bons. No vegetable oil was required with this mixture. A fresh 4 lb. box of Plaster of Paris was purchased for this experiment (DAP brand). According to the MSDS it contains 60%-100% Calcium Sulfate (Plaster of Paris); 10%-30% Calcium Carbonate (limestone); and 0.5%-1.5% silica.

    RESULTS:

    Today is the fifth day of the experiment. So far, there has not been any observed morbidity or mortality in the treatment specimen or the control. Both the treatment specimen and control did not start eating until the second day. As was stated, bait for the treatment specimen was introduced on day 1, but not accepted until day 2. Bait was the only food available for the treatment speicimen. The treatment specimen ate the bait consistently for three days starting from the second day to the completion of the fourth day. Bait was removed the fourth day and the treatment squirrel from then on has received all the acorns it wants. Of the six bon bons made from the peanut butter and Plaster of Paris, 1/2 of the bait, or three bon bons were placed in the treatment specimen's cage at day one. From day 2 to day 4 the treatment specimen consumed two bon bons. At the end of day 4 there was enough bait left over in the treatment squirrels food dish to re-fashion one bon bon. No wastage was observed, therefore by deduction, the squirrel must have consumed two bon bons. Here is a photo of the re-fashioned bon bon. For reference is is placed next to the three bon bons I did not use. The bon bon on the right is what the treatment squirrel DIDN'T eat, out of the three bon bons placed in its cage.
    {{gwi:123973}}

    Once the bait was removed and replaced with acorns, the treatment squirrel began eating acorns normally. So far in the experiment, the treatment squirrel has not shown a decrease in appetite, whether being fed bait, or acorns. At this point, both squirrels have not shown any visible signs of pain, or lethargy.

    One interesting observation is that on the beginning of day 3, the rodent droppings of the treatment squirrel turned a very light color (almost white) and became larger than normal. The droppings were very hard and broke as if they were made of Plaster of Paris. I have included some photos below.

    Here is a general photo of the treatment specimen's feces taken on day 4. Notice the very light color:

    {{gwi:123974}}

    Here is a close-up of the day 4 treatment specimen droppings. Notice the pellet dropping broken in half and white inside:
    {{gwi:123975}}

    Finally, here is a picture of the control rodent droppings taken on day 4. Notice the black color. Although the picture doesn't show it, these droppings are smaller than the lighter colored droppings of the treatment specimen.

    {{gwi:123976}}

    The treatment specimen has been receiving acorns for over 24 hrs. and already his droppings are looking more normal (i.e. smaller and black in color).

    PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS:

    Although it may be premature to conclude that the bait is not lethal, one may well conclude it is not acutely so. It has been 4 days since the initial consumption of bait with no mortality occurring up to this point. It should be noted, that reports indicate hypercalcemia may take up to two weeks to cause death. So if the bait is toxic, it would not exhibit quick results in this case. It is possible it does not cause hypercalcemia at all. Although rodents are very susc. to hypercalcemia, traditional rodent baits use synthetic derivatives of vitamin D to achieve this end. Rodents do not have a mechanism to properly process vitamin D. As such, vitamin D causes their system to pull calcium out of their bones, and into their blood stream. However, rodent baits use vit. D derivatives as an active ingredient, not calcium based products as an active ingredient. It may be while rodents can't process vit. D, they can process high doses of calcium without any adverse affects.

    It doesn't appear that the bait causes gastric blockage. The treatment specimen ate nothing but bait for three days, and seemed to process it into "pellets" (albeit large ones) without difficulty. At this point the stool samples appear to be back to normal.

    Lastly, up to this point, the bait does not appear to cause any suffering of the animal.

    This concludes my write-up at this point. I will plan on adding to this report any further observations I notice.

    Olpea

  • alan haigh
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    So Don, looks like you may not be going to hell after all.

  • jellyman
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Harvestman:

    Whew! What a relief! Puzzling though; it does not explain why all my squirrels disappeared. Maybe they were just seriously offended by the PoP.

    Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

  • alan haigh
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    On the positive side of squirrel control, although unfortunately this one will be difficult to put to any definitive test, I seemed to have gotten very good results this year repelling the bstds.

    I need about 4' of trunk from the ground to first branches. At 1.5 feet up I staple a cyliner of 2' wide alluminum flashing around the trunk(this is to stop coons and possums). On the bottom and top I spread about an 8' cylinder of tropical (paste) formula tangle trap over stretch wrap.

    This year desperately hungry squirrels were raiding the trees where the paste was placed only above the cylinders but they stopped when I added paste below. I was afraid the coons would use the paste for traction but it didn't happen in the several sites I did this.

    I'll keep you all posted next season if I continue to get control this way- who knows?

  • milehighgirl
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    harvestman,

    Do you have any pictures of what you did?

    My problem is that the squirrels can jump from the my neighbors privacy fence onto my trees. I was thinking about putting carpet tacks on the runners to prevent the squirrels from using the fence as a highway. The only problem is that the fence is not mine. :(

  • alan haigh
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I'm kindof computor illiterate but if squirrels have other access my method will not work. You could put tangle trap on the fence but it would trap birds by the score- not a pretty sight to imagine. I doubt nails would work because the squirrels just don't weigh enough to get punctured. Some people have been succesful with nets. I've had squirrels chew their way through nets, however.

  • gator_rider2
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Squirrel pole answer youall looking for Google search squirrel pole. The pole set at 45 degree angle so squirrels favor it angle to climp. This pole about 2 1/2 inch to 3 inch diameter about 12 feet long longer can be better length is just judgement call. Snares add 6 to pole above ground about 3 feet more works just as good spuirrels fill up the number of snares in a days time one in trap has nothing to do with catching more in same trap. Ten years ago I bought 12 snares at 1 dollar per small snare at trapping outfitter store there was fresh hides on frames hanging in store not squirrels. My question for trapper was how to get squirrel population down around orchard of 1800 young pecan trees about production was up to about 20 pounds per tree adverage I was booked for time so hunting was out to lower population he took walk around corner in store showed me his squirrel poles he used to catch squirrels about 6 he had he trapped for living and no not just squirrels. So after 12 snares made my 2 squirrel poles I've caught hundreds squirrels that I raised to over population.

  • milehighgirl
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    gator_rider2, your idea might just work for me. The pole for the electric wires is in the corner of my lot, and the cable support is also. The squirrels use it as a little highway. I was planning on putting metal flashing to keep them off of the pole, but now I think I'll try to put a pole above the support cable with some snares.

    The one problem I have with catching squirrels in a live trap is then I need to kill them; something that I don't think is ingrained in the female to be able to do. With the squirrel pole I don't have to kill them!

    Thank you for your input!

  • alan haigh
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Oh, if forgot to thank Olpea for his stellar research, even though the subjects were as limited as they were. All his time and trouble may not end up being close to conclusive but I think we already have a clearer idea about the affect of the bon bons than before he made this effort.

    I'm awaiting his final report on the 2 subjects with continuing curiosity.

    Gator Rider, I like your squirrel pole but my customers are pretty much cityfied. Most don't want to see any corpses, but next time we get an epidemic I will give it a try on my property if my shotgun fails to do the trick.

  • bonsaist
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Hello Olpea,
    thanks for posting your experiment. I don't see you have an email, i wanted to get your permission in printing this for a newsletter.
    thank you

    please contact me.

    Bass

  • olpea
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Bass,

    Feel free to post these results to your newsletter. I don't really consider these results some kind of "intellectual property", but thanks for the professional courtesy. I posted it on this public forum for everyone's benefit, so you can use it freely.

  • bonsaist
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Thank you,
    So whatever happened to the squirrels?

    Bass

  • olpea
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Well, we are just on day 7 today, so it's still premature, but so far they are still both doing well. Eating lots of acorns, and stinking up my basement.

  • alan haigh
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Olpea, your experiment was a hit on the NAFEX list. I don't know if you get over there but there were thankful readers.

    Best, Alan

  • thomis
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Hello friends-

    I wish I had more time to check this daily... I have a new baby in the house which makes it difficult to find hobby time. I would have followed up to my earlier post where I stated I that I too, would try the experiment... But I wasn't able to prepare bon bons using plaster of paris... but I did however, receive my Golden Malrin flybait poison that I ordered online. Several old trappers turned me onto this stuff and I tried it. I mixed some peanut butter and honey with it (powder form) and placed the "gobs" of bait in locations frequented by the squirrels. I had mixed results, and I cannot figure out why but, some squirrels die within 20 yards of eating the bait and others go off not to be seen again. Two of seven actually lay beneath the birdfeeder and kicked a few seconds before giving up the ghost. Instant gratification.

  • Scott F Smith
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    olpea, thanks for the great study! My guess is some squirrels may decide they would rather eat elsewhere after experiencing the bonbons and that explains why they appear to work; I don't think my squirrels fall into that category however.

    Gator and others, I found the squirrel poles to be a lot of work for few catches. Maybe I didn't have good nooses but they had to be repositioned daily since the wind or rain would move them. I have finally settled on the Kania traps as my squirrel control method of choice. They need to be checked every few days but they are very effective.

    Scott

  • theaceofspades
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    My Bon Bon Swedish meat balls are whiter than the photo. I start out 50/50 and add more POP till they almost don't make balls. I throw Bon Bons out in late winter when they are skinny and starving. I see the squirrels take them away to the nests(young ones?) In the spring I didn't notice any water bowls in all the dreys that fell from my Oak trees. Who knows maybe my Squirrels got a virus. I am not going to stop Bon Bons this winter since this season the fruit shredding squirrels are gone.

  • alan haigh
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    In general, this was not a terrible squirrel year in the southern NY and CT sites I manage, and everyone thinks I'm the hero. I can only hope that my methods helped, but next year's another season and nature has to send out some new curses and a few old ones. Without struggle there is only boredom (and lots of perfect fruit).

  • olpea
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Ace,

    For some reason, the photo of the bon bons turned out dark. The bon bons are actually much lighter in color. For reference, the paper towel in the background is actually white, about as white as the GardenWeb background beside the photo.

  • theaceofspades
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Olpea,

    "Water was replenished twice daily. The squirrels were both male specimens of slightly smaller size."

    Your experiment shown in summer a young male squirrel can pass POP with lots of water in a dark basement.

    In winter when there is scarce food and no open water can nests with POP survive?

    You said the first squirrel died of shock alone.

    What are your conclusions?

  • alan haigh
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Ace, I know your question was for olpea but I'd like to chime in.

    Before olpea's exeriement most of the testemonial for pbpop balls was unequivically positive. I was dissappointed by the results I got and posted my questions on this thread.

    The only conclusion or at least supposition you can draw from this experiement is that the formuala is probably not nearly as lethal as we all had hoped.

    Squirrel populations naturally decline in the winter (drastically if mast is scarce)and to find out if the bait might work under winter conditions exclusively would require tailoring another experiment to try to duplicate those conditions.

    I think it may be asking a bit much (not that you were asking) for any of us to keep trying different experiments to find out if a certain combination of environmental factors might render the bait affective. Or the sex of the animal, or the size, or if it has an empty stomach etc.

    Of course two squirrels proves nothing but it's the closest evaluation of efficacy of this bait we've got and I'm grateful for it. It carries more clout with me than all the positive testemonials, but then the stuff didn't work for me.

  • dan_j
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I live in an older inner ring suburb of Detroit. There are many mature trees and thick tree lines. There's no shortage of food, so it's a squirrel's paradise. I have apples, figs and a vegetable garden, so it's a constant battle.

    Two summers ago I tried BBs. I mixed PB+PoP till it was stiff and set out BBs the size of walnuts. I lost 10-12 BBs a day for 2-months+ and saw no reduction in squirrel population. I never saw a squirrel or bird take a BB, however I found 2-BBs with a shallow squirrel bite taken out of it, as if it was being tasted to see if it was good to eat. I found several with bird pecks in them. I quite because I came to the conclusion that it wasn't working as well as trapping and shooting. At least with trapping and shooting there's a body count that tells you that you're not wasting your time.

    For my situation, trapping is the best method of control. Havaharts work very well for me. I have an old 1040(2A) and a new model 1040(2A) that are very good at catching squirrels. The older traps are superior to the new ones. Little did I know when I started testing my green thumb that I would be taking up another hobby...squirrels.

    Dan

  • theaceofspades
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Dan, I live next to a wooded area with 40% oak trees. I agree it is a losing battle to control squirrels in summer. In winter the squirrel populations decline a lot. In late winter they are just hanging on with no food left. Then I fed bon bons and they stopped coming to the black oil sunflower seed bird feeder. Gangs would come from each direction every day till I noticed they were less and then scarcely any. About 5 resident nests dropped from the trees on my property in spring. Late February I will set up bird feeder with black oil seeds again and pitch BB. I'll post what happens this winter.

  • dan_j
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Ace, I hate to say this but I trap and shoot year round and for ever squirrel I remove, it seems like there 2-squirrels waiting to take it's place. It's not as if I'm bad at it, it's just that there so many squirrels here. I probably average a squirrel a day and it doesn't really make a dent in the population. It's pretty steady year round, even in the winter. The telephone lines allow them to travel long distances without having to deal with dogs, fences, snow, etc. I feed birds in the winter and the feeders are squirrel proof, but they still come for what falls on the ground.

    I still have half of a 5lb jar of PB and a 1/2gal carton of PoP in the garage, so it wouldn't take much to resume baiting this winter. Perhape I'll give another shot once we get some snow on the ground. Thanks for your input.

    A big thank you to olpea for taking the time to do a BB trial and for sharing it with us. You're going to give those squirrels hemorrhoids.

    Dan

  • olpea
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    It is a valid point that conditions in the wild may be different than the test conditions. My response would probably mirror Hmans. That is, I have no way of duplicating natural conditions precisely. I suppose it's the nature of most experiments that they leave open some interpretation of the results.

    The experiment is far enough along, that it appears to be safe to say the bait was not toxic (under these conditions). Might it have been so if the squirrels were famished, in freezing temperatures, with limited water? I doubt anyone can answer that definitively.

    My personal interpretation of the results is that Plaster of Paris is probably not a very effective poison. Not only does the experiment seem to point that way, but the more "circumstantial" evidence seems to concur with that:

    1. The troubling aspect that dead carcasses are not seen after feeding the bon bons in the wild. I thought I remember on another forum someone mentioned they found lots of carcasses after feeding bon bons, but now I'm wondering if I remember that correctly. There have been many on this forum using the bon bons and no one has reported seeing carcasses.

    2. I found a reference to the LD 50 of Plaster of Paris, which is >3000 mg/kg of body weight. LD 50 is considered the average lethal dose, where 50% of the population tested dies. In this case the test population was rats. I would think the effect it has on rats would be similar to the effect on squirrels. These statistics don't suggest Plaster of Paris is non-toxic, just that it is not highly toxic relative to other substances. For reference, table salt has an LD 50 of 3000 mg/kg of body weight in rats. One could argue these "official" tests to determine LD 50 values were done under similar circumstances as mine (i.e. plenty of water, room temperature, etc.) so they may not correspond with results under nature's conditions, but again that is where personal interpretation of the results comes into play.

    I'll leave everyone with one more picture, taken today. Pictured are the two squirrels (Sorry, I couldn't get them to look at the camera.) I will probably give them a few more days before destroying them.

    {{gwi:123977}}

    Some may wonder how I changed dishes out of the cages, without pandemonium breaking loose. I built a "comb" (pictured above) that I could slip in the slots of the cages and lock the squirrel at one end of the cage. To feed acorns, I was able to drop them through the side of the cage. I still had to lock one squirrel at the end of its cage even to feed it acorns. It got quite territorial over its cage. It growls (I've never heard a squirrel growl before, but they can) and reaches through the slots to try to scratch me (with lightning speed) if I get near its cage. It's kind of comical.

    Lastly, thank you all for the "thank yous" and kind words. I hope the results were helpful in some way to everyone.

  • alan haigh
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Speaking of bird feeders, I detest the things because so often the orchards I manage where squirrels are a constant issue there is a bird feeder helping populations survive winter.

    How did these devices ever become popular when the lion's share of food goes to rodents? Birds will always knock most of the food off the platform. It seems like eco-insanity to me. If you want to watch birds, why not grow plants that feed them naturally? I've always heard that it is a mistake for humans to feed wildlife directly.

    OK, I know this is a hopeless crusade. Once you've gotten in the habit of watching these beautiful feathered creatures in the unnatural numbers the feeders bring you're not going to pay any attention to my rant.

  • milehighgirl
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    olpea, I want to thank you for everything you did during this experiment. It had to have taken quite a bit out of your daily life just to care for these critters and make your observations. I appreciate your effort!

    I'll probably try the Kania traps that scottfsmith recommended.

  • glenn_russell
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Thank you again Olpea for sharing your experiment with us! You 'da man!
    -Glenn

  • dan_j
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    harvestman, I don't view the birdfeeders as a problem, I see it as an asset. It's like hunting over bait. I may not get them on the first visit...but I will get them.

    The way I see it is if they weren't visiting my feeder (which comes complete with traps and airguns), they'd be at someone else's feeder. If I didn't have one I'd certainly have bait pile to trap and shoot over.

    Dan

  • alan haigh
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    If you destroy the rodents that the falling seed nourishes, I have no problem with bird feeders either.

    My father was an avid bird watcher and naturalist who was locally famous as the "Bird Man of Topanga"- a town in S. CA. The ground-squirrel and rat tunnel network leading to his feeders was frightening, although he employed a service to exterminate them both. The exterminators were usuing bait stations that didn't seem terribly affective in eradicating the ground squirrels.

  • mcleod
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    For the record using a chemical in an off label manner is a violation of the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, known as the FIFRA law. Penalties are severe and can include both monetary and imprisonment sentencing. Look it up.
    Advocating the same on an open site can also bring on other charges as well.

  • alan haigh
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    What are you, a DA. This is not a useful contribution in my opinion unless you have some information on actual prosecutions. Otherwise it seems like powertripping and bad script writing to me. Are you talking about using peanut butter and plaster of Paris off label? Oh I just love the internet- we all get to participate.

  • mcleod
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Nope, not a DA just a wildlife professional that holds an applicators license to dispense pesticides that have seen the penalties imposed for such foolishness. One peach grower here in Georgia got tapped with a 100,000 dollar fine for such foolishness.
    Irregardless of what we may think concerning federal regulation and government intrusion on our lives the laws are there for a reason. Besides there are perfectly legal means to accomplish the same task without being stupid.

  • alan haigh
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I suggest you ask your own DEC enforcers if they'd have any problem with someone baiting squirrels with peanut butter and plaster of Paris. I too am a licenced applicator and am aware of the kind of enforcement of which you speak, at least as applies to bureacratic NY State.

    My hunch is, because you didn't elaborate, that you are talking about a commercial peach grower using a poison that is designed for a specific use in fruit production and the grower improvised in a manner inconsistent with the label. This is an entirely different situation than experimenting with unlabled, non toxic home remedies to kill rodents in a home orchard. Remember, you were suggesting that there was a possibility of our discussion here being tracked down by the "enforcers", which seems a bit over the top paranoid to me.

    Some things may be technically illegal (I don't even believe that bon bons fall into this category) but would never be enforced because the crime doesn't at all fit the intention of the law. At least it seems your intentions are good, so I thank you for your input. If you want, get back to us on the DEC response and give me the name and position of any bureacrat you can find who'd be interested in prosecuting the evil purveyers of peanut butter bon bons.

  • theaceofspades
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Olpea said;
    "The experiment is far enough along, that it appears to be safe to say the bait was not toxic (under these conditions). Might it have been so if the squirrels were famished, in freezing temperatures, with limited water? I doubt anyone can answer that definitively.

    My personal interpretation of the results is that Plaster of Paris is probably not a very effective poison. Not only does the experiment seem to point that way, but the more "circumstantial" evidence seems to concur with that:"

    Plaster of Paris an effective poison?!, no it is used on childrens arm casts. POP seems inert to me.

    The issue was did POP harden in the squirrels and cause death by blockage.

    Olpeas test showed the POP hardened into a very large mass and passed through. (The first squirrel died of shock alone before eating the Bon Bon.) Olpeas test used a robust young summer squirrel in a dark comfortable basement with bowls of water.

    My experience with BON BONs in winter has shown me is that by the spring squirrels nests drop from the area trees. The few squirrels that came over next summer looked skitish and took one fruit and ran into the woods. Previously squirrels attacked and plundered every single fruit, even branches chewed off. I believe with local area nests gone squirrels take one for food and go away.

    A more realistic test to me would be done outside over night in winter without any water only ice or snow.

    Can a winter squirrel eating BON BONs and drinking snow/ice pass POP in 15 degree weather.

  • alan haigh
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Ace, since you proposed it I suggest you catch a couple of squirrels in mid-winter and give them a bunch of leaves for shelter and feed one of them bon bons and snow and the other gets acorns. Other raving testimonials about the efficacy of bon bons was about spring baiting, by the way.

    Your anecdotal observations aren't that much different than what happens anyway on a season with few acorns. Squirrels die off and the few remaining ones act crazy in the spring- but I'd expect them to go after your green fruit. If you include some evaluation of the acorn crop in your observations you might find your answer there. I don't know.

    I also don't know that squirrels have any trouble getting the water they need in winter. In the northeast there are usually plenty of streams flowing even if they can't get water from snow.

  • theaceofspades
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Harvestman, A cage outside in February with leaves and snow, sounds like a real experiment. There has been a decent acorn crop this season so squirrels are back in my yard.

    If dissection shows POP inside, we have the proof.

  • alan haigh
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Ace, great, this will be interesting. I'll put my money on PBPP bon bon failure if anyone wants to place any bets. I'd still hope to lose.

  • mcleod
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    This will be my last post on this as I see I am wasting my breath. I do not need to contact DEC or any other agency as I KNOW what the answers are. Because I have broached this subject with them in the past. Not for this thread but for others I have seen.
    Here in Georgia the response from the Dept of Agriculture's Structural Pest Board headed up by Jim Herron would be, "get me his tag number I'll get my special investigators on it". (these two special investigators are also homeland security agents fully vested with federal powers as well). The response from the Department of Natural Resources Special Permit Section, which is tasked with nuisance wildlife and headed up by Todd Nimms, would be, "get me his tag number so we can get someone on it".
    The response from the United States Department of Agriculture here in Atlanta would be, "get me all the information you can and we'll get someone on it".
    As to the follow up I can not say as that is far as I can take it but I do know this. I have seen the Dept of Ag snatch licenses, close businesses and impose fines as well as refer cases to district attorneys for prosecution. The DNR lacks Mr Herron's clout but I have seen licenses pulled and citations written. The USDA is a rule unto itself and I know better than to fool with them.
    Take this for what it's worth. There are alot of things that we can do legal or not and there is only so much law enforcement can do with the resources they have. But ONE bad incident can bring it all crashing down on us.

  • alan haigh
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    mcleod, you're absolutely right IMO. On the wasting your breath part. I have absolutely no fear for my licence, liberty or checkbook.

  • grafts
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    For a number of years, we had a squirrel problem. The
    fruit would be taken and damaged before it ever ripened.
    I was telling this story to an elderly neighbor whose
    father had a commercial orchard when she was a child.
    She recommended broadcasting bloodmeal around and under
    the trees at the first sign of damage. I did. That was
    the end of the damage. Only one application was needed
    at the appropriate time of year. 100% successful, here
    in Iowa. Even rain didn't bother the effect.

  • olpea
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Ace,

    Just noticed something in one of your recent posts. To wit,
    "The issue was did POP harden in the squirrels and cause death by blockage."

    The reason I mentioned the relatively low LD50 values of PoP, is that I believe those values are relevant to intestinal blockage as well as any other means of death. As far as I know, when FDA/EPA animal testing is done to determine LD values, they simply feed several groups of rodents/rabbits the substance and when 50% of the population dies from a certain dose, that becomes the LD50 value. I think toxicity would include any cause of death. In determining the LD50 value, I can't imagine they would ignore some deaths of PoP just because they died of intestinal blockage.

  • theaceofspades
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Olpea,

    The first two sentences are yours followed by my comment.

    "My personal interpretation of the results is that Plaster of Paris is probably not a very effective poison. Not only does the experiment seem to point that way, but the more "circumstantial" evidence seems to concur with that:"

    Plaster of Paris an effective poison?!, no it is used on childrens arm casts. POP seems inert to me.

    The issue was did POP harden in the squirrels and cause death by blockage."

    I agree with you that POP is not an effective poison.

    The next experiment is does POP cause blockage under outside winter conditions without water bowls.

  • alan haigh
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    The experiment is somewhat limited because, as I mentioned, squirrels on most sites (at least around here) have winter long access to stream water. Also, in my experience, they come out to forage during warm spells. They are otherwise in semi-hibernation it seems.

    I still am interested in the results.

  • keepitlow
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    "Posted by mcleod 7b Nope, not a DA just a wildlife professional that holds an applicators license to dispense pesticides that have seen the penalties imposed for such foolishness. One peach grower here in Georgia got tapped with a 100,000 dollar fine for such foolishness. Irregardless of what we may think concerning federal regulation and government intrusion on our lives the laws are there for a reason. Besides there are perfectly legal means to accomplish the same task without being stupid."


    ===============

    No wonder the peaches in the store are all sh*t nowadays. The peach growers not only have to battle the critters, they get reamed out from the gov as well. Who wants to grow good peaches while you get screwed from every angle? That would put anyone in a bad state of mind.

    And what are the legal means that work so perfect in controlling squirrels?

    With reference to doing stupid things...look no further than our elected knuckleheads in office.

  • alan haigh
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Keepitlow, don't take candy from strangers. If Mcleod isn't full of it he can include the phone # of one of these people he puts words in the mouths of and I'll gladly confirm his statements if I can, pay the phone bill and offer up an apology. I actually googled around for a while trying to find a phone number of one of them, but failed.

    I've been an applicator for 20 years, category 3A and been friends with both DEC pesticide enforcers and commercial growers all that time and I think the man exagerates greatly. Over the counter rat poisons are not labled for squirrels and yet I recieved written confirmation from the NYDEC that it was legal to use them to poison squirrels. Just one example of going against an actual label being legal.

    They are very strict when you go against a pesticide label on a commercial crop in terms of applications to the fruit or exposing workers (these are poisons, after all) but peanut butter and plaster of paris baiting- give me a break. The material doesn't even necessarily touch the trees. I seriously doubt even a commercial grower could suffer any consequences for that, excpet the consequence of the lack of efficacy.

  • olpea
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Ace,

    We seem to be having a language barrier here. I used the words poison, toxic, and lethal somewhat interchangeably. What I meant was that if it caused death (by blockage, or any other means) it would be a poison, that is both lethal and toxic.

    So for the record, my opinion is that PoP is not a very effective means at killing squirrels (by intestinal blockage, or any other means).

    You'll recall before I did the experiment, I asked for suggestions on setting it up correctly.

    Although you haven't asked for suggestions, I might offer a few, as you move forward with your experiment.

    In general, the conditions you propose to do your experiment do not mimic natural conditions. Squirrels are naturally under a lot of stress when they are caged. You can observe their behavior. For the first few days, all they want to do is try to find a way out of the cage. Placing them in a cage in 15F weather seems to me, extremely stressful. Squirrels need to "hibernate" over night in those kind of temps. It's unclear to me whether a squirrel will be able to hibernate under the stress of being caged. I don't think packing the cage with leaves is the same as a squirrel being in it's own nest. On the water, I tend to agree with Hman, that squirrels will find water if they're thirsty. However, as you state, I do think it's reasonable to assume they can only find it in the form of ice and snow, in the middle of winter.

    If you do proceed with your proposed experimental setup, I would highly recommend a control specimen be kept under the same conditions, at the same time. If the treated squirrel dies, it would be reassuring to know it wasn't caused by the stress of being caged in frigid weather.

    BTW - I misspoke in my last post. I said, "The reason I mentioned the relatively low LD50 values of PoP..."

    That should have read, "The reason I mentioned the relatively high LD50 values of PoP..."

    When I originally wrote that, I was thinking low toxicity, which of course translates into high LD50 values. However, when I typed LD50, I had the word "low" stuck in my mind.