(Des Moines) — As the fall months approach, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says it brings that special time of year that is squirrel hunting season.
Keeping in line with recent Iowa tradition, squirrel season kicked off the Saturday before Labor Day and runs through Jan. 31. Speaking on the KMA “Morning Show” Friday morning, Iowa DNR Forest Wildlife Research Biologist Jim Coffey says that while the season is in full swing, there are some limitations that hunters must take into account.
“We allow a combined harvest of six squirrels per day from the two species that can be hunted, which is the fox squirrel and the gray squirrel, which most people are pretty familiar with if they’ve lived in Iowa for a long time,” Coffey said. she said. “We have two other tree squirrels that aren’t available to be hunted, and that’s the flying squirrel, which is a nocturnal species and would be very difficult to hunt anyway, and then in some parts of Iowa we have the red or the squirrel.” Pine”.
Coffey says that hunters can shoot a combination of foxes and gray squirrels up to six per day, and can have a total possession of 12 on them.
The combination of the fox and gray squirrels, says Coffey, is because gray squirrels began to take over fox populations.
“(The fox) tends to be very much associated with open wood, or the savannah-type wood that Iowa was very used to years ago,” Coffey said. “The gray squirrel is a smaller species and is more associated with our more mature wood habitats. One of the biggest issues we get from squirrel hunters is ‘I’m losing all my fox squirrels, what’s happening to them?’ Well, as those trees mature, that species no longer has the same ability to survive and do its job biologically, so the gray squirrel tends to take over those areas.”
Coffey says one of the biggest complaints he sees is people finding access to land. However, she says there is a lot of land due to the sport being underutilized.
“In many cases, squirrel hunting is an underutilized resource, so there is plenty of space available to hunt squirrels on public land, and of course you need a permit to hunt squirrels on private land,” Coffey said. “One thing I like to tell people is the beauty of squirrel hunting, it’s something we associate with when we were kids. So it’s a good way to introduce young people and new people to hunting, and as older adult, it’s a good way to relive your youth a bit so you can go squirrel hunting again.
For hunters just starting out in the sport, Coffey says look for an oak or hickory, as squirrels this time of year are strongly associated with acorns and hickory trees.
More information about squirrel season and hunting in general in the state of Iowa can be found on the Iowa DNR website.