Proposed Regulation Amendment

4VAC15-230-20. Game: Squirrel. Gray and red squirrel. Season; generally.

Summary

The proposal is to extend the squirrel hunting season through the end of February.

Text of Regulation

Rationale

There is public interest in extending the squirrel hunting season to the end of February. The Board proposed establishing this opportunity to gain additional public input on the issue. The current gray and red squirrel season runs from the first Saturday in September through January 31st.

Declines in squirrel hunter numbers have occurred over the last decades (1973 - 288,731 hunters harvested 2,539,940 squirrels compared to 2012 - 50,081 hunters harvested 544,404 squirrels - 82% decline in hunters - 79% decline in harvest, all squirrels combined). During the same time period, squirrel populations have increased (Rural Mail Carrier Survey 1988 - 2010). Adding additional time to squirrel hunt may encourage increased participation in the sport and help with hunter recruitment and retention. Currents rates of harvest (5% - 10%) are not nearly high enough to negatively impact squirrel populations. Increasing the season length by one month would not increase the harvest level significantly, and certainly not to a level to impact populations. However, some negative feedback could occur. One of the peak times for squirrel parturition (births) is during February and March. Public and hunter perception could be negative, even though the impacts of orphaning squirrel litters at this time would have no affect on the squirrel population and it occurs routinely in the absence of hunting due to predation and disease.

Comment on this proposal:

You are invited to comment on this proposal. To do so, please provide this identifying information.