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How do I control mice and rabbits around my fruit trees?

Mice and rabbits can do considerable damage to fruit trees in your yard or orchard by chewing on the bark. The following control procedures are offered as suggestions. You can use one or more of these measures depending upon your situation.

1. Guards - Use 1/4 inch mesh hardware cloth around the base of fruit or ornamental trees. Set the guards about 3 to 4 inches in the ground at the base of the tree trunk. Extend them about 18" above the ground; higher if snow cover is routinely deeper in the area. Wire mesh will protect your trees for many years and reduce total labor and material costs. Remove before there is any danger of the wire getting tight and girdling the tree.

2. Habitat destruction - is the elimination of high grass cover through repeated mowing or the use of grass killing chemicals in and around trees and shrubs. This will reduce the mice population. It is particularly important to have a grass free area immediately surrounding the main stem of the tree.

3. Trapping - This is also a safe and practical way to eliminate mice and rabbits from small areas such as the yard. If you place wooden snap traps in runways, you can control mice well. Peanut butter, oatmeal, or small slices of apple are good baits. Rabbits are easy to catch in wire or wooden box traps.

4. Repellents - There are numerous repellents on the market. Those containing Thiram give excellent protection against rabbits and mice. Be sure to use commercially prepared repellents only as directed by the manufactures. Repellants are available at garden centers or farm supply stores.

5. Dogs and Cats - Pets can also be helpful as patrollers. Cats love to catch mice and what dog wouldn't love to chase a rabbit.