Rabbit Damage to Saplings

Recovery and prevention strategies for rabbit attacks. April 18, 2009

My woodlot has many red and white oaks that have been girdled by rabbits this winter. The trees are five years old. Is there anything that I can do to make them re-sprout? If they re-sprout will they ever turn into productive harvestable trees?

Forum Responses
(Forestry Forum)
From contributor B:
What you may want to do is to take slips or smaller branches about 4-5 inches long and put the cut end in a jar of soft water in your window and try to get them to start rooting. If you have a greenhouse that would be even better to start them as the humidity is a lot higher. Once they are ready for transplanting put a small fence around them so that the rabbits cannot get at them as you have found that they like to eat the tender branches.

From contributor D:
Most likely the oaks will re-spout this spring. Wait a few years and one of the spouts will take the lead for the terminal shoot position. At that time prune off most of the other spouts of that stem. You should grow a straight oak at that point.

From contributor J:
Don't laugh, a nursery tree grower uses this technique, and it works. When he has something that has nibbled at the trees, girdling them, or from mower scraps, he takes newsprint, tears it into strips, wets it, and wraps the wound on the tree. The paper will keep the wound in good condition till the tree can start to heal itself, and will rot away in a few weeks. It seems to work well for him here in KY. No wire, ties, etc are needed, and the fact that the paper will rot off keeps bugs and mold from entering the wound.

From contributor B:
Does this newspaper trick work on trees that are girdled on 100% of the tree's circumference?

From contributor X:
One thing to remember when wrapping, wrap high enough. I had snow that reached higher up on trees and the varmits were able to stand on the snow and do damage higher up than usual. Itís a toss up if they will re-sprout and survive. Only time will tell regarding their condition.