Maple syrup producers are contending with a late start to the season in the Northeast and an abundant squirrel population with the critters chomping on plastic sap tubing and spouts.
Damage from wildlife — deer, bear woodpeckers, and squirrels — is not unusual for maple operations, but this year squirrels are wreaking havoc in some spots.
That means producers must go out into sometimes deep snow to find and replace the damaged lines that transport the sap from the maple trees or other chewed equipment, which producers say can be time-consuming and expensive.
Ruth Goodrich of Goodrich's Maple Farm in Danville, Vermont, the largest maple producing state, says of the squirrels: "Occasionally they declare war. And it seems like they have this year."