Is it Illegal to Shoot Squirrels in Your Backyard?

is it illigal to shoot squirrels

You’ve decided to get rid of them, whether they’ve damaged your house or uprooted your flowers and herbs, and shoot them for eating squirrels in your backyard, but you’re not sure if it’s allowed to shoot and kill squirrels in your backyard. Shooting squirrels will almost certainly require more than a gun or arrow, and you’ll need to check with the Department of Conservation of your area to see if is it illegal to shoot squirrels in your backyard.

Is it illegal to kill squirrels without a permit? The short answer is yes. It is illegal to kill squirrels without a permit in many states. During hunting and trapping season, however, you can shoot squirrels with permission.

You can’t kill squirrels in the off season unless they’ve caused damage to your property, and even then, you’ll need a permit. You can’t torture squirrels by putting them in a fire, placing them in a cage without food, tossing them from several stories, or other methods. You can, however, get rid of squirrels without shooting them, and we will show you how to go about it.

Get rid of squirrels without shooting

Allowing you to get rid of these tricky little rodents without dealing with licenses saves you time and work. It’s also pointless to harm these helpless creatures when you can stop them. We’ve supplied several critical techniques to prevent them, whether they’ve caused some or more damage. This method works on all squirrel species.

Get rid of their food source

Squirrels, like raccoons, are omnivores who consume whatever they come upon, including plants and meat. They are more than welcome to visit as long as there is food for them. If you feed squirrels in your backyard, you should probably stop doing so.

If you have a bird feeder, it is an excellent source of food for them. There’s no need to remove the bird feeder; replace it with one that’s squirrel-proof. Remove any squirrel feeders you may have. Remove any pet food left outdoors since this is a fantastic source of food for them. The most effective and essential move you can do is to eliminate their food supply. If you have some food outside your home, you’re encouraging them to come, such as seeds, food leftovers, or anything else you know about. Also, make sure you eliminate their supply of water.

If you have an outdoor composter or compost bin, you’re offering reasonably decent food that’s also accessible. Try to remove it and place it inside your home. Alternatively, you could install chicken wire on the top of the composter.

Use distractive things

You may also employ a variety of items to distract them, such as Blood Meal or a complete soil fertilizer, which will help plants develop faster. Pour some Blood Meal on the dirt, and it will most likely defend the next time they try to break in.

You may utilize pelletized hen or chicken manure, an excellent soil fertilizer that enhances your plants and garden while keeping squirrels at bay. After you’ve planted your bulbs, sprinkle a little top dressing on your pots in the garden; squirrels will eat it. Consider what they dislike seeing, smelling, touching, and tasting.

Another thing you can use to deter squirrels is a cheap plastic animal, like a cat, an owl, or a dog. If you have a dog that chases squirrels or likes to capture or play with them, it will most likely drive them away from your yard.

You can also use pepper, as they don’t like it. Putting some pepper on the ground, surely will keep them from coming.

For larger gardens

There are many several techniques, particularly for extensive gardens. The most conventional method is to use a predator bomb, coyote urine, and scatter it across your garden. Using raccoon urine, fox pee, or even your pee (human pee), you can also do this. One technique used extensively by gardeners is to pee along the perimeter of their land, either in their garden or throughout their whole property. To make anything smell awful, you may add human hair, dog hair, pee, and various types of pee. There are also daffodil plants. If you have a problem with squirrels, toxic daffodils are a great way to keep them away.

Planting mung beans may help fix your squirrel problem and keep them out of your house and community! You may also distract them with a few bits of hot red sprinkling pepper or ordinary pepper.

Kill in as the last option

Squirrels are adept at spotting and even developing vulnerabilities in your home’s defenses in order to get access to your attic for refuge. When these pests come inside, they may be very deadly since they like to gnaw on electrical wires. That is exactly what they did to me. They chewed up the wiring from the solar panels and it costed us a fortune to repair.

Not only that, but they also chewed chicken wires and pierced and chewed the outsides of floors and walls. If the squirrels aren’t leaving your house and you’ve tried some or all of the procedures and they didn’t work or aren’t possible for you, such as having a nut tree that you can’t cut and is causing constant damage, you’re left with no choice but to kill squirrels.

Those who are unsure if it is legal or unlawful to shoot squirrels in their backyard should know that it is permissible to do so during hunting seasons. You can kill squirrels at other times of the year if they are a nuisance and have caused damage to your property, but only with a specific authorization. In other areas, however, you are permitted to shoot red and flying squirrels at any time, but only on your own land.

The protected wildlife series

Squirrels come in various shapes and sizes, and they all have their own set of laws and regulations. Not only that but they’re also related to these rodents. Some squirrel species, such as Gray squirrels, are protected and require a permit during specified hunting or trapping seasons, from September through January.

Other than those seasons, you don’t have the authorization to kill squirrels unless they’ve caused damage to your property. If that is the case a permit is required. This extends to the landowners’ personal and family members in Virginia, Texas, and many other states.

More information regarding shooting guidelines and everything you need to know may be found on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) website.

Other types of squirrels, such as red squirrels and flying squirrels, can be shot or caught at any time of year as long as they’re on your land, but you’ll need permission if you don’t want to break the law. Remember to check the department’s website for specific criteria and instructions.

The law protection

For killing squirrels, several states require licenses, which must be obtained during specified seasons, under specific conditions, and following legal regulations. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, squirrels can be killed as long as they are not being tortured, hacked into pieces, burned, trapped to death, or subjected to other forms of pain. That is what shooting entails.

Obtaining permission is the easiest part of the procedure; nevertheless, there is still more to do. While most individuals are new to shooting and lack expertise, they cannot shoot into the skull, which is a very lethal target. And the squirrel suffers, which is against the RSPCA’s rules and illegal.

Squirrels were extensively adored and popular in 1977, and they remain so in select areas such as New Mexico and Utah today. It’s still popular, and killing squirrels is prohibited. In some areas, the rules and restrictions for killing squirrels are significantly more stringent than in other states. Despite this, killing squirrels in urban locations is more complex than in rural regions, and it needs far more care and attention. To learn more about your state, contact your state wildlife department, and proceed with caution.

Get a permit

In most areas, getting rid of squirrels necessitates obtaining permission. There are two sorts of licenses, though. If you wish to shoot squirrels to eat them, you may only do it during hunting season and with a hunting license. You can apply for a nuisance wildlife permit that includes squirrels if they are a nuisance and have caused damage to your property during the off-season or closed season. However, the process varies slightly from state to state, but these are the two essential permits you must get to kill squirrels.

Red squirrels and flying squirrels, on the other hand, are a little simpler to photograph because they are not protected species. Furthermore, they do not require a season but only necessary permission. The permit may be obtained through the Department of Environmental Conservation’s website.

Shooting squirrels and anything else necessitates a great place, and the direction of the shot should not be toward the neighbor’s house. On the DEC’s website, there are various guidelines and regulations to follow. You can Google or phone the department if you’re not sure what kind of squirrel it is.

The perfect guns for shooting squirrels

You can now shoot squirrels on your property after the permission step is completed. Shooting squirrels without injuring them necessitates using a proper rifle, and the gun you choose is crucial. Some weapons hurt squirrels rather than killing them, which is illegal, and you will be prosecuted if caught.

When using an Airsoft or BB gun, for example, you’re more likely to harm than kill. There are some regulations and guidelines to follow in metropolitan regions, particularly cities, to avoid bothering, upsetting, or scaring them. If they are terrified or become aware of the situation, they will produce various noises to inform others.

If you’re using a rifle like the Remington, which requires special permission and performs an excellent job of killing squirrels, a single shot to the head may kill them instantly.

Nagant M1895 Silencer, Caldwell Conversion Uppercut, and Nagant 1895 Officer are just a few examples of rifles used for hunting or even survival. Not to offend, harm, or damage any other animals, pets, or people, especially children, and baby squirrels, but to follow the directions and department rules and to be under cover of and, more significantly, to try your best to shoot at the ideal spot at the perfect moment.

How to shoot squirrels properly

It’s tough to shoot squirrels at an ideal location, just as it’s difficult to trap them. Remember, though, to only pursue and shoot squirrels those you are allowed to. Now, getting firearms ready isn’t the last thing on your mind. Shooting squirrels effectively and correctly without harming your family, pets, or other animals, as well as irritating your neighbor, is more complicated and demands more prudence. Above all, not to break any rules or regulations.

First and foremost, begin following squirrels and keeping an eye on them. Find out when it comes to a location where you’ve seen it frequently, such as a birdfeeder. On the other hand, Squirrels are most active in the morning and, to some extent, at dawn.

When you have adequate information about when it will be accessible, you may alert your neighbors (on both sides) and family members (mainly if there are children who could be terrified), as well as bring your pet and family inside.

The ideal way is to set some food where you’ve seen it before or where you’d like to shoot it (but not in the direction of your neighbor), then take out your pistol, sit down, and shoot carefully.

Remember! You can only shoot on your land, so if this isn’t yours, this isn’t the place for you.

  • Get as close to the squirrel as possible. The closer you can get, the better. It will not only increase your odds of hitting your target correctly, but it will also ensure that you do not miss or damage them instead of killing them. Ten shots are better than one flawless one. Instead of firing ten bullets, which is extremely risky, come as near as possible and carefully target your pistol at the head before firing a single shot.
  • Shoot the squirrel. Take out the gun and sit on the ground, point your target at the head, load it, and hit the shot button. If it is moving swiftly, you may feed it to the last longer with a slight movement. Otherwise, don’t fire if they try to flee or relocate somewhere since it can go wrong, and you’ll be breaking the law.
  • It will die in a few seconds if you shoot it in the head. If you hit into a body and it doesn’t die right away, you’ve been hurt. In this instance, fire it once more, but this time into the head.

Carry the body to the far edge of the yard and bury it. If you don’t want to, put it in a garbage can, preferably black plastic, and the garbage man will take it away.

This is most likely the finest and most secure method. You can also catch and then kill squirrels, which is a lot easier.

If you have no prior experience or are unable to do so for whatever reason, contact the local police or wildlife department.

A Word on Gun Safety

Before you go out and shoot squirrels, be sure you know how to use a handgun safely. If you own a weapon, you probably know how to use it, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind when shooting at such a tiny target:

  1. Before you start shooting, be sure no one is nearby. You want to make sure that all children, family members, and pets are inside and away from where you’ll be shooting when you’re using your gun to get rid of bugs. Unintentional shootings do occur, and they are devastating. Take this essential measure to avoid catastrophe.
  2. Shoot during the day. Squirrels are more active during the day, so you’ll have a better chance of seeing them. You’ll be more aware of your surroundings as a result, and you’ll be less likely to shoot something you shouldn’t.
  3. Don’t shoot something you’ll come to regret murdering. Make sure you know where your gun’s barrel is pointing. Don’t point the gun at it or near it if you wouldn’t fire it on purpose.
  4. No matter how safe you are, this goes hand in hand with the previous gun safety tip: even if your gun is set to safety, NEVER point it at something it shouldn’t be directed at. Another tip to remember is to put the gun on safety after each shot until you’re ready to take the next shot after you’ve shot your troublesome squirrel.

Tips for Shooting Squirrels if Permitted

There are a few things you can do to ensure you receive the intruders if you’ve done your investigation and are sure it’s legal. Early morning and late afternoon are the busiest — and visible — times for squirrels.

  • Start where you’ve seen signs like piles of shells or trails leading to potential hiding places.
  • Lure them to you by tapping two quarters together.
  • If permitted in your area, attract them with some bait.
  • Let them get close to you before you shoot for a better kill rate.
  • Always shoot squirrels sitting on the ground.
  • Never go after them when it’s windy, which can interfere with the trajectory of your ammo.
  • Wear blaze orange to alert others to your presence.

Check to determine whether the pelt has any monetary worth. You might be able to produce enough money to cover the cost of the ammunition. If you kill squirrels while their fur is at its peak, which is usually at the start of the fall season, you’ll receive the best price. They’re probably lovely and fat from a diet high in nuts and other tasty foods.

You’ll perform much better if you can kill them with the fewest shots possible without damaging the pelt. To put it another way, do some target practice before going for the squirrels.

Other ways to kill squirrels humanely

If your state, like Indiana and most of the United Kingdom, prohibits the killing of gray squirrels, or if you’re frightened of offending or scaring your family or neighbors, you may go for the comparable but undoubtedly safer and easier choices.

Traps that are both simple and deadly

Traps are one of the most common and widely utilized methods for doing so. While there are a variety of traps available, such as simple and snap traps, they aren’t as effective as lethal traps that kill squirrels directly rather than just trapping them as other traps do.

That is the only way to get rid of squirrels without having to shoot them with a rifle, an arrow, or anything else. They are difficult to capture, notice, and sometimes even see since they are as rapid as a bird, jumping, climbing, and escaping in a matter of seconds.

Lethal traps, on the other hand, allow you not only to catch but also kill them. This is the most effective and straightforward technique to kill squirrels without exerting much effort while minimizing the risk and requiring little time to monitor or care for. However, if you have a pet or a little child, there’s a chance they’ll slip into the trap, but that’s the only thing to worry about that isn’t as much labor and risk as firing with a pistol.

As for legal talks, you should first verify with your state or department concerning traps since each state differs, although most states allow it. Find out everything there is to know about traps, rules, and restrictions.

  • Place the trap where you have observed or suspect they will come, or provide food to entice them to approach, and you’re set to go. All you have to do is look after your dogs and children.
  • After a day or two, you will see that the task has been completed without your intervention.

The sole disadvantage of lethal traps is tough to construct and obtain in stores or elsewhere. Most of them are simple traps that grab squirrels but do not kill them; they merely make it simpler to kill them but do not complete the task. I discovered one that works, although there are undoubtedly better options available. Remember that most rodent traps, especially those for mice and rats, will not work for squirrels since squirrels are larger than those and other rodents. This is an excellent place to start if you want to kill squirrels.

Other than that, you may use simple traps to capture squirrels, whom you can then kill with an arrow or poison spray.

Live Traps

If your location allows it, you may also try utilizing a live trap to prevent the animal’s dispatch. The approach entails you releasing them somewhere else, ideally far away from your home, as the name indicates.

You’ll very certainly discover that rules regulate where that location is. If you don’t follow them, you could get a ticket.

This approach has many significant, crucial drawbacks: you must manage the cage, which contains an enraged, caged squirrel.

It isn’t going to make things any easier.

Many cages include handles that keep your hands out of the way of the animal within. Again, you should select one designed for squirrels to guarantee that the trigger is appropriately triggered.

When handling a live trap, always wear gloves.

Using a live trap requires more effort. You must also consider how prolific gray squirrels are, with litters of four or more puppies occurring twice a year.

That’s a significant amount of traps.

Bow and arrow

Like traps, arrows and bows are a proven way to kill squirrels, although they, like firearms, take some effort to pinpoint the exact location. With traps, you can accomplish it quickly and easily. You may catch the squirrels in a simple trap and then shoot them in the head. This is the less complicated option.

The simple technique is to identify squirrels by looking for holes and markings where they frequent, and after you’ve found them, all you have to do is grab your bow or arrow, fix your target to the head, and shoot hard.

A bow and arrow to kill rodents are legal in many areas, and it is widely practiced. Remember that except for some breeds of squirrels, like red and flying squirrels that can be killed at any time, gray and other types of squirrels require a permit. Since we’ve completed the permit section, I’m assuming you’re done with it, so there’s another technique to kill squirrels that’s quite similar to firing weapons.


You may poison squirrels in addition to shooting them with a rifle. In some areas, poisoning squirrels is legal but, in a few states, such as Denver. This may be related to the power to influence other pets and animals. You should contact your state’s wildlife department for more information.

You may utilize the poison option if it is authorized. This, like fatal traps, will complete the task if placed in the proper location, but it has a few drawbacks. If you have little kids or pets around, you may use this only if you can entirely protect them.

The best part is that the poisons developed mainly for squirrels contain nuts that attract squirrels and drawing them to the poison can quickly lead to their death. But only when squirrel poison is used, not when rats, chipmunks, or other rodents are poisoned. Using poison on squirrels is not only unlawful, but it also doesn’t kill them; instead, it injures or confuses them and eventually kills them.

It’s not difficult to find a decent squirrel poison, but there aren’t many of them. Due to its proper ingredients, a good squirrel poison, placed in the appropriate location, will kill squirrels very quickly. This is also one of the most effective techniques to get rid of squirrels with the least work and time.

Make sure it’s out of reach of children and dogs once more.

Gas killer

You can use the gas killer if squirrels have dug holes that suggest they are dwelling or hiding their food or themselves there. For the most part, gas killers and related biological materials are compressed gas that may be burnt within the burrows of squirrels, gophers, and rates when the squirrels are inside their tunnels, but only if the opposite side of the holes is covered or filled. They perform a fantastic job of eradicating these pests from their underground lairs.

This works for most rodents, except for flying squirrels, who like to dwell in a nest. It may also be used when the rodent is down in a burrow and works up to very far. You may use this outside, but you should remove your dogs, children, and, most importantly, your car, bike, or anything else that can catch fire. It contains no poison or anything hazardous. However, it must be kept away from children.

How To Use The Gas Killer

  • Find out where the squirrel is first. Check to see whether it’s in the burrow.
  • Remove the car from the garage and park it outside.
  • Connect the rubber coupler to the exhaust pipe securely.
  • Connect the hose to the coupler and stretch it to the rodent hole.
  • Remove any visible soil from the mound/burrow to reveal the hole.
  • Start the engine, insert the hose into the hole, and fill up the gaps with earth.
  • Run the engine for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Do not rev up the engine.

Keep in mind that each gas killer has its own set of instructions. It’s a solid but compassionate approach that won’t torment squirrels like shooting and won’t require much time and effort.

Signs That You Have a Squirrel Problem

Woodpeckers, for example, can gnaw holes in your siding. Squirrels, on the other hand, frequently leave certain clues that they’re up to no good in your yard. They are as follows:

  • Piles of shelled nuts like acorns or walnuts
  • Raided bird feeders
  • Droppings
  • Trails leading to your house
  • Odd noises coming from your attic
  • Damaged garden plants
  • Frequent sightings during the day
  • Holes where they’ve dug up their winter stash

One thing you can count on when it comes to squirrels is that they aren’t subtle. You’ll know if they’re on your property. Squirrels eat a diverse range of items, including nuts, insects, and even dead animals. As a result, they become more opportunistic and have a better chance of surviving.

It’s possible that the rodents don’t appear every year. Some trees, such as white oak, only produce every other year, forcing squirrels to hunt for food elsewhere.

Final thoughts

We realize how aggravating a squirrel problem may be, especially given the damage and disease transmission potential. To stay on the right side of the law, though, you must do your study.

Whatever harm squirrels have caused, significant or minor, or just if you dislike them because of their destructive nature. Never, however, pull the trigger or shoot them without first obtaining permission. That is to say, and if you want to remove them, you must be and act following the law, particularly in cities and metropolitan regions.

As a result, if you live in a suburban region, killing squirrels in the backyard is most certainly legal, but it is also less safe. Living in the country provides you with additional space and choices for addressing your pest problem. Keep in mind that there are alternatives to using a gun to keep squirrels at bay. If you can’t kill squirrels, trap them or use another means to get rid of them.

To do so, follow the procedures outlined above, which we’ve previously discussed in terms of legality. You can also contact the wildlife department or the Department of Agriculture to obtain comprehensive permission and rules and regulations. You won’t break the rules this way, and you’ll know if it’s legal or not, as well as how and with what to get the task done.

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Emma Olsen
I’m a gardener and blogger with over 20 years of expertise writing about and cultivating fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. I have extensive experience in organic and sustainable gardening, perennials, annuals, and sustainable and urban farming. I’m a nature freak and I enjoy bird watching and swimming with sea creatures.