Boise animal organization dealing with spike in shot and injured squirrels

Animals In Distress says they are working to help “Laz” get back on his feet after he was illegally shot with a pellet gun.

BOISE, Idaho — Spring is here, which means the squirrels are out, too. They may be fast and small, but squirrels are one of the most commonly hunted animals.

Killing some species of ground squirrels is legal in Idaho with a valid license, although Boise and many other areas restrict shooting within city limits.

“It is quite difficult to give a general statement about the hunter’s motivation, which can vary. I will say a lot of hunters eat squirrels,” said Idaho Fish and Game spokesman Brian Pearson.

Others consider shooting squirrels as a social activity, or even as a way to prepare for big game hunting season. But the Boise-based Endangered Animals Association says the practice is making its job more difficult.

The organization focuses on rescuing injured or sick animals and helping them regain their health before being released back into the wild. Usually this time of year, the group deals with orphaned baby squirrels that need extra care, said Beckie Lambardi, a volunteer with the Endangered Animals Association.

“In the last month and a half we’ve had an extraordinary number of squirrels being shot with BB guns within the city limits,” he said.

Laz is a squirrel that they have adopted this year. They shot him with a pellet gun and left him on the side of the road with serious injuries.

Laz needed “a little bit of love, a little bit of care and a little bit of time,” Lambardi said. “If nothing else, he will recover and can stay here as long as he needs.”

“While I’m not against hunting, I totally understand it. What I am against is suffering,” Lambardi said.

Pearson said letting an injured animal suffer is more of an ethical issue than a legal one.

“We teach students in our hunter education classes that part of the ethic of being a hunter is to strive for a quick and clean kill,” he said.

Last year, Lambardi says they only saw two cases of injured squirrels that had been shot. Just three months after 2022, the organization has dealt with six.

“It’s illegal and unsafe to shoot firearms in many cities and it’s definitely up to people to check their local ordinances and decide where it’s not only legal, but safe to do so within their area,” Pearson said.

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