It’s incredible to watch our wildlife survive the frigid winters, but it can be devastating to see how trees and animals affect each other in the winter. Deer, squirrels, rabbits, moles, and chipmunks are just a few of the creatures that are active year-round and live in the cold.
We remember to protect smaller plants like annuals and perennials in our gardens from any critters, but we often overlook our trees. Smaller trees are very vulnerable to several types of animal damage in fall and winter, so it’s wise to take steps to protect them.
The Damage Left on Trees Due to Animals
- Deer often damage the upper half of tree trunks during rutting season. Rutting season takes place during the fall and early winter. Rutting is when a male deer rubs their antlers against trees in hopes to wear off their velvet. Thin barked trees are more susceptible to damage from deer than other trees. If the tree experiences enough bark loss around the entire trunk, it is more susceptible to girdling. Most trees can recover from this damage but will eventually lose limbs in the affected areas.
- Rabbits and other smaller rodents damage the lower two feet of the tree. Moles will chew on tree bark under the surface of the soil so the damage often goes unnoticed until the tree slowly begins to die. Rabbit damage is a bit easier to spot. They chew on the bark a few inches above the soil. Animals will burrow in the snow and chew away at your tree without you ever seeing them.
How To Protect Your Trees in The Winter
- Start by spraying your tree with animal repellent. It’s important to know that deer might stand on their hind legs to reach the branches, so spray as high as you can reach.
- Be sure to wrap your trees. You can use white paper, fabric, or plastic tree wrap. You can place the barrier directly on the tree trunk in a spiral coming from the ground to the first branch. This barrier can help prevent damage that comes from deer and from smaller animals gnawing at the bark.
- If you’re still experiencing some animal damage, you can try making a physical barrier. Use a double layer of chicken wire while misaligning the holes. If you live in a snowy state, be sure your barrier is 18-24 inches higher than the anticipated height of the snow cover.
Contact a Professional Tree Company
If you’re worried about you the health of your tree this winter, consider contacting a professional. Mr. Tree can give you some additional tips to protect your tree and can prune your tree for extra support. Contact Mr. Tree for an estimate today!