CORVALLIS - Cold weather, particularly in areas with snow cover, often drives hungry field mice and voles to search for food in residential areas.
One of the food sources these hungry rodents feed on is the bark of landscape shrubs and trees.
"Mice and voles are capable of damaging and even killing shrubs and trees," explained Ross Penhallegon, Oregon State University Extension Service horticulturist. "They may eat the bark all the way around the trunk."
Recently planted fruit trees are particularly vulnerable to invasions of field mice and rodents.
To prevent rodent damage to trees, wrap a mesh hardware or plastic collar around the base of trees and shrubs. Mesh or plastic hardware material is available at garden and hardware stores.
Keep the vegetation controlled around the base of trees and shrubs.
"Mice and voles don't like moving out in the open," said Penhallegon. "When vegetation grows up around the base of the plants, the mice can move in and out and not be noticed. It also removes an important mouse food source."
Rural residents might want to try and encourage hawks and owls, mouse and vole predators, by erecting perch poles. Snakes, as well as house cats, are also good controllers of rodent populations.