Q: I have a critter ripping, shredding and eating up my sugar maples. It’s becoming a big problem.
A: Wow- impressive!
I think it’s squirrels looking for water and/or something to eat. The base of a tree around the trunk/root flare has quite a concentration of sugars and salts.
I see it occurring higher in trees in spring when sapsuckers peck tree trunks to drink sap.
My advice is to get some Hot Pepper Wax and spray on the roots of affected trees.