Is It Illegal to Kill a Squirrel in the USA

Squirrels are smart and adorable creatures. However, they can also be cunning and despicable critters that can cause damage in and around the home, many of which can require costly repairs. Other than being hardy, squirrels can multiply quickly and uncontrollably, too. And now you may be wondering: is it illegal to kill a squirrel?

Killing squirrels is legal in most states but only during hunting seasons. It is illegal to kill squirrels where they are school or town mascots. But if they are a nuisance, one may apply for a permit to kill them.

Before you attempt to get rid of squirrels by shooting, poisoning or trapping them, keep reading.

Killing a Squirrel

Provided that it’s the hunting season and you have a permit, you can kill squirrels with a gun. However, it is not just squirrels that you should watch out for but also the safety of people and protection of properties around. There are restrictions on where you can fire a gun to hunt squirrels.

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image of dead squirrel

Some people consider squirrels as pets.

In most states, however, squirrels are considered small game animals. It means that they can be killed during the hunting season just like other creatures such as:

  • Beavers
  • Bobcats
  • Coyotes
  • Ducks
  • Geese
  • Opossums
  • Otters
  • Rabbits
  • Raccoons
  • Quails
  • Skunks
  • Turkeys

But before you kill squirrels with a gun, there are a couple of things that you have to check beforehand.

First, it has to be the hunting season for squirrels or any other small game animals.

Second, you need to have a permit.

Aside from these, it’s also a must that you use the right gun for hunting squirrels. In most instances, a shotgun is allowed for killing squirrels.

Many states do not allow pellet guns for killing squirrels.

Pellet guns cannot kill squirrels cleanly and quickly, thus causing squirrels to experience pain and suffering unnecessarily.

Killing squirrels with bow and arrow

Many states permit the use of a bow and arrow for killing squirrels. Using a regular bow for the job is perfectly fine. However, you must use broadhead arrows because they are intended for small game animals. Just see to it that it is legal in your state to use a bow and arrow for killing squirrels.

Not all bows are suited for squirrels because of their small size. A trip to the archery store will get you introduced to bows with sniper-like accuracy for more productive hunting and a clean and quick kill, too.

Bear in mind that it is illegal to use a bow and arrow for killing squirrels in Washington, DC.

As a matter of fact, it is illegal in the capital city of the US to kill squirrels.

That’s because all wild squirrels there are protected by the law.

In some parts of the world, such as the UK, a special permit is needed for killing squirrels with a bow and arrow.

Using Poison on Squirrels

There are no poisons for squirrels in the market for consumers to get their hands on. Available poisons for squirrels are only for use by professionals. A permit is needed before they can be obtained and used. Poisons for other pests may kill squirrels, too, but using them is illegal in most states.

It’s no secret that there are rat poisons (also called “rodenticides”) readily available online and offline.

Different rat poisons work differently. One popular type kills rats by causing them to bleed internally.

Regardless of how rat poisons work, one thing remains true: rat poisons can also kill other small animals.

Examples of small creatures that can die as a result of rat poison ingestion include mice, chipmunks, porcupines, moles, opossums, voles, nutrias, groundhogs, and squirrels.

Suppose that it is legal to kill squirrels with rat poison in your state. Still, it’s a terrible idea to get rid of squirrels with rat poison, and it’s because of a couple of reasons:

A house that smells like a dead animal

A squirrel may get trapped in a hard-to-reach area of your home after consuming rat poison. Needless to say, when it dies there, your home will smell horrible.

image of dead squirrel

In some instances, you may have to get in touch with the experts to retrieve the body of a dead squirrel, which doesn’t come free of charge.

Allowing nature to take its course rather than spend hundreds of dollars is not an option. That’s because it can take at least a month for the body of a dead squirrel to decompose completely.

A curious pet’s life placed on the line

Just because a squirrel died in the open after consuming rat poison doesn’t mean right away that you are off the hook.

In case your beloved furry friend comes across the dead squirrel and it catches its fancy, your pet may die of what’s called “secondary rodenticide poisoning”.

This is especially true if it decides to carry it in its mouth or eat it.

Making matters worse is that some rat poisons on the market does not have antidotes, which is why taking your pet to the veterinary clinic after exposure to a squirrel killed by a certain type of rat poison is pointless.

The takeaway: If squirrels are already causing significant damage to your property, the right thing to do is get in touch with a local pest control company to have an idea of the best step to take.

Can I Use a Live Trap to Catch a Squirrel?

Because squirrels are protected species, trapping them is illegal in most states. This is true even if the goal is to release them into the wild. However, it is perfectly fine to catch and release squirrels using live traps during the hunting season. In most cases, getting a permit first is a must.

Worry not if hurting or killing squirrels is not an option even though they are causing havoc on your life. It’s because you can remove them from your property with the help of a live trap.

Just like what the name says, a live trap is a device that is designed to trap a small animal, usually a common household pest, without injuring it. It has a door that closes shut the moment that the animal enters it. The door can be easily opened from the outside, making it easy to set free the trapped animal in the wild.

For a live trap to work, the small animal must be lured to enter it. The good news is that there are many things squirrels love, and they can be used as bait. Leading the list are nuts and seeds.

When planning on catching a squirrel on your property using a live trap, remember two things:

  • Check that it is legal in your state to catch a squirrel using a live trap. In some instances, getting your hands on a permit is necessary to avoid a brush with the law.
  • Look for a place where the squirrel will live without much trouble. Release it where there’s plenty of trees and water. Just make sure that you release it at least three miles away.

Just Before You Attempt to Kill a Squirrel

In the US, killing a squirrel can put you in trouble.

That is why you should check with your local environmental laws what you can and cannot do when it comes to ridding your property of squirrels.

Fortunately, you can have a squirrel-free life without hurting or killing any squirrels.

For instance, you can install ultrasonic repellents or motion-activated water sprinklers or spotlights.

It’s also a wonderful idea to have a squirrel feeder in your lawn or garden to keep squirrels from chewing on your outdoor furniture or invading your home.

Read also: Getting Rid of Squirrels Without Killing

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