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At the cornerstone of Lake View Cemetery’s beloved landscape is our expansive tree canopy, featuring many trees that are more than 100 years old. Our horticulture not only attracts visitors from all walks of life, but all walks of wildlife as well.
The squirrel population at Lake View is extensive. Other than the threat of the occasional hawk, the peaceful seclusion of our cemetery allows for squirrels to multiply and roam and frolic through our grounds without fear of predators. This freedom is amusing for them, but not for our trees.
The Lake View squirrels have taken an interest in debarking or stripping off the bark of Sugar Maples and our Japanese Maple trees. We asked Mike Bondarenka, a certified arborist with The Davey Tree Expert Company, to explain these habits.
“These trees are not only an asset to Lake View but also to our environment. So, removing an entire mature tree will have a more negative impact than removing a few branches for aesthetic reasons.”
“Squirrels can be destructive to trees in some years from late winter until early summer. As an arborist I have always thought it was for drinking the sugar rich phloem (the same reason we tap the trees to make maple syrup), but another theory is that the phloem is also calcium rich and could be the reason. We have seen one Sugar Maple have only a few chew marks while the one next to it is almost totally debarked, which may be a taste test finding the most sugar or calcium rich tree to concentrate on.”
Debarking exposes the heartwood and damages the vascular system of the trees, interrupting the flow of water and nutrients. The leaves will brown, and the limb will die. Depending on the severity of the damage and the vulnerability to fungus and insect damage the trees life may be shortened.
“These trees are not only an asset to Lake View but also to our environment. So, removing an entire mature tree will have a more negative impact than removing a few branches for aesthetic reasons,” says Marilyn Brandt, Vice President of Operations. “We will do our best to live with these squirrels and what mother nature gives us by managing and prioritizing each tree.”
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