Recently while helping preserve a declining red maple on a client’s property in Medford, one of our BTSE crews encountered an unexpected situation. The task of structurally pruning the mature tree involved removing a dead and decaying leader at the top of the canopy. Cutting into the limb revealed an internal cavity and a nest full of baby squirrels. Because of hazard concerns, the remaining portion of the tree needed to be removed, which meant the squirrels had to unexpectedly pack up and move elsewhere.
As arborists, we generally focus on the health and safety of trees, not necessarily wildlife, but a plan was quickly developed to rescue and relocate the baby critters. The crew carefully evacuated each furry creature, placing them into a large canvas bag normally used for storing climbing ropes. The bag was then lowered out of the tree and each baby was gently transferred into a nest the crew had constructed under a nearby stand of hemlocks, to provide some safety and protection while our tree work continued.
During the rescue operation, the mother squirrel was spotted in another tree on the property, keeping a close eye on our arborists and her babies’ whereabouts. Adding to the day's drama, a hawk was seen circling above, apparently also aware of the unfolding events.
As our project continued, the crew regularly checked on the displaced babies to ensure they maintained a safe distance from the ongoing work and remained warm, tucked in their temporary nest. Once out of sight the hawk lost interest and flew off.
The project was completed, we packed up our equipment and left the site. The story ends, as far as we know, with momma squirrel reuniting with her babies and scampering off to find a new home where they all lived happily ever after. The red maple was successfully pruned, helping preserve it for our client’s future enjoyment.
Maintaining trees in the urban environment provides many unexpected surprises. BTSE arborists do their best to meet every challenge to ensure the safety and well-being of the urban environment we have the opportunity to help manage.