Squirrel Boom Plagues Apple Growers

10/16/12 6:06AM

A squirrel population boom is menacing fruit growers in some patches of the country, including Vermont.

Southern Vermont apple grower Clarence Boston says squirrels have destroyed about half of his most profitable variety after a season already made tough by hot weather.

Squirrel populations are also up in parts of New York, New Mexico, Indiana and Ohio.

But other parts of the country are seeing average or even below-average squirrel activity.

Biologists say squirrel populations have rare but periodic "eruptions" when conditions coincide to produce abundant foods that fuel the fast-reproducing animals.

Vermont's current squirrel boom follows two seasons of bountiful acorn and beechnut crops and last year's mild winter.

The population boom is expected to end this winter in Vermont, after a poor nut season this year.

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