Study seeks to reduce damage caused by squirrels

By Debbie Dalhouse

squirrel; photo by walker masseyWith few predators in urban environments, squirrel numbers increase so that their gnawing and stripping the bark can kill even mature trees. Clemson scientists are participating in a USDA research project to control squirrel populations through contraceptives.

“Most people don’t realize the extent of damage gray squirrels can cause,” said Greg Yarrow, Clemson wildlife ecologist. “This study will evaluate the effectiveness of two different types of contraceptives in preventing reproduction in gray squirrels.”

One contraceptive, GonaCon™, is injected and renders both male and female squirrels infertile with just one treatment. Another, DiazaCon™, is administered through treated feed over a 10-day period and lasts approximately four months. The treated feed is delivered through feeding stations mounted out of reach of other animals.

Research is conducted by doctoral students, Murali Pai and Cady Etheredge, in conjunction with scientists at the USDA National Wildlife Research Center, the state USDA Wildlife Services and the Department of Natural Resources.

For information: Greg Yarrow, 864-656-7370,