Trapping and Relocating Squirrels [Pros and Cons]

Trapping and Relocating Squirrels

Dealing with nuisance squirrels on your property can be both challenging and frustrating. Especially if they are causing damage to your home, garden, etc. The first solution people think about is trapping and relocating squirrels. But is this the best option? We’ll look at the pros and cons of relocating squirrels and some alternative methods you can use to protect your home. 

There are several pros and cons when considering trapping and relocating squirrels. Below are some things to consider before relocating a squirrel to a new environment. 

Pros of Trapping and Relocating Squirrels

Population Control

Trapping and relocating squirrels can help control their population in a specific area. When you relocate them to a specific area, it reduces the chances of them reproducing offspring. 

This, in turn, reduces the chances of them looking for a warm space in your attic, garage, chimney, etc., to make a nest and raise their babies. 

That said, it’s important to remember that other squirrels might still come and replace those who were relocated. 

Protecting Your Garden

Squirrels are opportunistic pests that learn how to adapt to their environment. This makes your garden, plants, birdfeeders, etc., vulnerable to them digging holes, eating your plants, and stealing bird seed. 

When you trap and relocate these rodents, you effectively remove them from the area and minimize the damage they can cause to your garden. 

That said, squirrels can find their way back, or others will find their way into your yard if preventative measures aren’t taken. 

Once you remove a squirrel, you can use squirrel-repellent plants or install squirrel-proof feeders to keep others at bay. 

Preventing Property Damage

Squirrels can also cause property damage by gnawing on wood, insulation, and cables, potentially leading to expensive repairs. 

If you have squirrels living in your attic or on your property, trapping and relocating them can help prevent these damages from happening in the future. 

After relocating them to an area of at least 15-20 miles, it’s important to thoroughly inspect your property for potential entry points. This will prevent other animals from entering your home. 

Cons of Relocating Squirrels

Stress and Mortality

Relocation causes high levels of stress for animals, leading to decreased chances of survival. According to a 2004 study, 97% of grey squirrels died soon after relocation from suburban areas to a large forest. 

The high stress levels are from getting trapped, transportation to the new environment, exhaustion, and not knowing where to find food and water. 

These factors alone decrease the squirrel’s chances of survival. 

Genetic Diversity Implications

Releasing squirrels into a new environment increases the chances of genetic diversity. 

When squirrels are removed from a particular area, their absence can cause reduced gene flow, which might result in a loss of genetic variation. 

For example, the “black” squirrel is caused by genetic mutations. Studies believe that black squirrels came into existence because fox and eastern gray squirrels mated.  

To mitigate the potential impact on genetic diversity, it is essential to carefully consider the long-term implications of squirrel relocation and ensure it is conducted responsibly.

Disruption of the Food Chain

Squirrels play an essential role in the food chain by serving as prey to various predators such as hawks, owls, and snakes. 

Moving a population of squirrels from their natural habitat can lead to decreased food availability for those predators, throwing the system off balance.

In addition, squirrels contribute to the ecosystem by dispersing seeds while foraging. This is crucial for forest regeneration and maintaining plant diversity. 

When you relocate squirrels to a new area, it can have a negative impact on both the squirrel and that area. 

Wildlife Laws

Wildlife relocation is illegal in many states, so consult your local authorities before relocating a squirrel. Some jurisdictions have specific regulations that govern the trapping, handling, and relocation of wild animals. 

Failure to abide by the rules and regulations can result in harsh penalties and fines. 

Spread of Diseases

Squirrels, like all animals, can carry harmful diseases that can be spread to humans. For example, Hantavirus is a common disease spread by rodents that can cause various diseases in humans. 

Hantavirus is transmitted through their urine, droppings, or saliva. 

Symptoms of Hantavirus infection can range from mild flu-like symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, dizziness, fevers, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal issues. 

For this reason alone, it’s best to contact a professional to help you remove a nuisance squirrel. 

Property Damage

With all the deforestation, new houses are being built everywhere. Every patch of wood seems to be torn down to build new homes.

So, while there are no homes where you relocate the squirrel today, it doesn’t mean that new homeowners won’t eventually live there. 

This means you’re removing the nuisance squirrel from your home but making someone else’s life miserable. In addition, squirrels can travel 10-15 miles looking for food.

So, even if the squirrel can’t find its way back to your house, it will likely find someone else’s home. 

Orphaned Babies

One of the biggest drawbacks of relocating squirrels is not knowing if you’re relocating a nursing mother. When this happens, the babies are left behind in the den without the support of their mother, making them orphans. 

Newborn squirrels rely on their mother to survive until they are 10-12 weeks old. During this time, the mother teaches them survival skills, like foraging for food, watching and escaping predators, and creating a nest.  

When you remove the parent, these young ones are left to suffer. Their chance of survival diminishes big time. 

If you relocate a squirrel you find in your attic, there’s a good chance there’s a squirrel nest there.

Call a local wildlife rehabilitator in your area and ask them to pick up the babies. These people are trained to raise the animals to survive on their own when released back into the wild. 

Relocation Is A Temporary Solution

Relocating squirrels is not an effective long-term solution. Yes, you might get rid of that nuisance squirrel that is damaging your property. 

Squirrels have high reproductive rates, and new squirrels may quickly fill the void left by relocated ones. 

If you have a squirrel problem, it’s because your property is attractive to them. These opportunistic animals will go where food, shelter, and water are easily available. 

For a more lasting solution to squirrel-related problems, consider preventative measures such as sealing entry points to your home and removing food sources that attract squirrels.

What are the alternatives to relocating squirrels?

Instead of relocating squirrels, consider implementing humane exclusion methods. These methods include:

  • Planting plants and flowers that repel them.
  • Sealing gaps and openings in your roof, chimney, garage, etc. 
  • Get a cat or dog to scare them off.
  • Remove garbage, piles of leaves, or anything that will protect squirrels from predators.
  • Using tree guards to prevent squirrels from climbing.
  • Contact a company that offers squirrel removal services to help you remove the nuisance squirrel. 

Additionally, removing food sources, such as bird feeders and accessible garbage bins, can help discourage squirrels from returning to your property.

Final Word

Relocating squirrels is inhumane, which is why many states consider it illegal. Trapping and relocating squirrels can lead to an increase in their population and is only a temporary solution. 

Also, relocating squirrels can cause stress, injury, or death to the animal. If you’re having issues with a nuisance squirrel, it’s best to use the alternative measures mentioned above for a more permanent solution.

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