Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Squirrel season opens May 22

By Joe Jerek
Missouri Department of Conservation

The fourth Saturday in May marks the opening of squirrel season in Missouri. Hunters may pursue gray and fox squirrels from May 22 through Feb. 15, 2011, with rifles, shotguns or archery equipment. New to squirrel hunting regulations this year is an increase in the aggregate bag limit from six to 10 and an increase in the possession limit from 12 to 20.

“In the aggregate” means hunters may bag any combination of fox and gray squirrels so long as they do not exceed 10 squirrels total in one day. If hunters bag a daily limit two days in a row, they will have a possession limit of 20 squirrels. After that, they must eat or give away some squirrels before going hunting again in order to stay within the possession limit.

Hunters also may take squirrels with cage-type traps, as long as they label traps with their full name and address. Squirrel traps also must have openings measuring 144 square inches or less, for instance, 12 inches by 12 inches. Hunters must attend their traps daily. The same regulations apply to rabbits and groundhogs during their respective seasons.

Lonnie Hansen, the Missouri Department of Conservation’s resource scientist in charge of squirrel management, explained that squirrel numbers in the Ozarks are somewhat dependent on acorn production.

“Squirrel populations in the Ozarks often fluctuate from year to year, increasing following falls with good acorn production, decreasing following poor production,” Hansen said. “Acorns were scarce during the fall 2009 in the Ozarks, possibly causing some squirrel population declines.”

He added that squirrels have a more diverse and dependable food base in northern Missouri, thanks to corn and other agricultural crops. As a result, squirrel populations are more stable there, and hunting is uniformly good from year to year.

No comments: