Ask a CO: Why is there no hunting season for red squirrels?

red squirrel looking like a squirrel

Q: There are hunting seasons in Ontario for gray squirrels and foxes, which are classified as game mammals. Why is there no hunting season for red squirrels, which are classified as furry mammals and can be hunted with a trapper license? They are the most destructive predators of the eggs and young of boreal forest songbirds and of newly hatched hares and rabbits.

John Gartner, West Hill

A: The classification of red squirrels as fur-bearing mammals rather than game mammals is a long-standing historical approach that recognized the value of the red squirrel to the fur industry. Also, it is illegal to allow a skin to spoil or be destroyed. While hunters can hunt red squirrels, generally speaking, shooting one has a high risk of damaging the skin to the point where it can no longer be sold due to destruction from the shot.

ANSWER BY: David Critchlow,
Provincial Compliance Specialist, NDMNRF

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Originally published in the April 2021 issue of Ontario OUT of DOORS magazine. Ask a CO is also a regular feature in the print edition.

Please refer to the most recent summaries of Ontario’s hunting and fishing regulations, as rules and regulations are subject to change.

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