Is It Illegal to Shoot Squirrels in Your Backyard for Control?

Bill Taylor
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Signs That You Have a Squirrel Problem

Squirrels can do a lot of damage to your yard and garden. And when they’re active during the fall, it can be difficult to stop them from taking a bite out of your lemons, apples, or other fruits and vegetables.

So what do you do when you find signs that squirrels have been on your property? Well, the first thing you need to do is look for the source of the issue. That may be a nest or a family of squirrels living in the area. Here are some warning signs that you may be attracting squirrels to your yard.

There’s a Squirrels’ Nest/Nests on Your Property

The most common way for squirrels to be attracted to an area is if they’ve found a good hiding place. If you squirrels are raising their family in your attic or garage you’re pretty much guaranteed that there will be droppings all through the area.

Keep an eye out for pine straw, peanut shells, and other signs in the area. And check trees and bushes for holes that a squirrel or two could have made while building their nest.

There’s a Lot of Nesting Material/Hair Around

Especially if you have squirrels that are constantly in the same area and finding more to eat, they might be leaving behind a lot of hair and building materials. When you see a lot of pine straw or wood shavings, it may be a sign that you have squirrels making a nest.

If you have a lot of nesting material but can’t find a nest, you may have a female that is late in her litter cycle and may have a nest soon.

You’Ve Been Finding a Lot of Shed Fur or Nuts around Your Place

Another sign that you have squirrels may be the fact that you’ve been finding a lot of their shed fur. Squirrels tend to shed their hair each year, and it’s impossible for them to completely keep that fur out of their living spaces.

Plus, if the squirrels are constantly looking for more food, they might be dropping their nuts and seeds in order to locate more.

Life as a Protected Species

The Government vs. Wild Animals

While most people have never been indicted, animals in many ways have better rights than people. At least they have special laws designed to protect them.

The most well known instance of an animal getting the upper hand is an animal cruelty case. Suppose a dog beat a woman until she was seriously injured or died. You may think the owner of the dog would be liable in a civil suit, since the dog in this example was not acting in self-defense. Think again. The owner of the dog is not liable because the owner did not intend for the dog to harm the woman. On the other hand, if the dog did harm a trespasser of the owner’s property, the owner would be liable for the shooting and killing of the trespasser.

So for the trespasser, the law has created an exception to the rule. Perhaps unintended harm differs for animals than for people?

Section 7 of Public Law 92-514, referred to as the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), prohibits the harm or harassment of an endangered species or its habitat. Harm is defined as ‘interference with normal behavior’ of an endangered species. ‘Harm’ may include, but is not limited to, significant habitat modification or degradation, significant habitat destruction, or the death of an endangered individual.

So what if you have squirrels nesting in your attic and constantly coming into your house and ruining the insulation in your walls? Would they be causing harm to you? Probably. Would that constitute interference with normal behavior, as defined by the ESA? Maybe not.

You have to look at the intent of the Endangered Species Act. One of the main goals of the ESA is to protect wildlife and their habitats in order to meet the intent of the original legislation, which was to make alien species the highest priority for control. It is thus the intent of the ESA to curtail the destruction of habitats and unique species.

So the ESA is not intended to protect either humans or animals in general, it protects animals that are perceived as endangered, or could be endangered in the future. On the other hand, the law allows animals which have been introduced and are not a native part of the ecosystem to be destroyed, even on federally protected lands.

Another Level of Protection

The wild squirrels in your backyard can be an added level of protection against any unwanted species. While squirrels may not be able to control the species diversity of your land in the same way that an expert wildlife control professional can, they can certainly be a deterrent against certain invasive species.

Eliminating the Competition

More often than not, the wild squirrels in your backyard, especially squirrels of the gray variety, will also be competing for the same resources of the species that you and other human beings are trying to eliminate. The wild squirrels, with a similar taste in food as humans, may also be interested in harvesting their favorite fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes, peaches, lettuce, and peppers. Since the immature squirrels, as mentioned, are not yet capable of harvesting these resources, the squirrels will often damage the plants causing your plants to wilt or become diseased, which can ultimately cause the original crop to not produce as much fruit or produce diseased fruit.

Another thing to consider is that the seeds of plants that you grow in your backyard could be potentially ending up in the stomachs of the wild squirrels especially if they are being pulled towards the plants by the seeds. This is the same reason why you do not want the wild squirrels in your backyard to have access to your bird feeders. The food that they are harvesting from the bird feeders and your backyard plants are often the same, if not similar.

As mentioned, the wild squirrels can cause environmental damage when it comes to harvesting the seeds. While this may not be a problem to you, if the squirrels have access to the trees that are located in your backyard, they will have access to the fruit, thus affecting not only your backyard but the surrounding areas, too.

Lastly, an added benefit of eliminating the wild squirrels in your backyard is the elimination of pests that you may find a nuisance. For example, fleas can be carried by squirrels. When an area is infested with fleas, it is generally a sign that an area is infested with a variety of other pests as well. The fleas and other pests that are collected on the bodies of the wild squirrels can be carried with them when they visit your backyard, which can cause illnesses in your children and the family pet.

Nuisance Wildlife

What Qualifies?

Squirrels may be the bane of your backyard barbecue, having found their way into every nook and cranny of the house (the basement, pantries, your car…), and rarely seen as cute anymore, but the question remains, is it illegal to shoot squirrels in the back yard for control? The answer: It depends.

As defined in §§ 1500-153, 1501-110 and 1501-551.4 of the Code of Virginia, a nuisance animal or wildlife species is a wild animal or feral (wildlife) bird:

  • That causes damage or injury to a person or property;
  • That is creating a health hazard or otherwise presenting a danger to human health or safety;
  • That is damaging or destroying the property of another;
  • That is a threat to agricultural crops, horticultural plants or livestock;
  • Heard or seen attacking or killing poultry or domestic animals;
  • Reported as chasing or tormenting persons, commonly called rabies vector species;
  • Covered by, or that is likely to be covered by, a wildlife damage claim;
  • Chasing or flying over a house, campground, picnic area or other public recreation area, recreation facility or commercial area;

Causing a public nuisance.

A nuisance species means a vertebrate or invertebrate animal species that is injurious to human health or the quality of the environment and that meets any of the following criteria:

Is found in uncontrolled numbers and is adversely affecting the ecosystem, native wildlife or agriculture.

Is a disease vector.

Is a source of contamination or toxic substances.

Is found within, in or upon private premises, or is walking, running, flying, crawling or swimming in public or private property.

Is deemed by a county supervisor to be a potential public nuisance because of multiplication, concentration or breeding aggregation or for other reasons.

What to do if you think a species is a nuisance?

If you think any of the above is happening to your property, or a neighboring property, please contact your local nuisance wildlife biologist. (Check the department’s website for the list of local nuisance wildlife biologists).

Use of a Firearm

It is not illegal to shoot squirrels in the backyard for control of the number of squirrels in the area.

However, it is illegal to take a firearm outside of your home without a license, unless it is for self-defense.

It is not illegal to poison squirrels for control of the number of squirrels in your area.

However, the poisoning of non-venomous pests is only allowed if using the proper kind of pesticide.

Other methods of squirrel control that are deemed to be illegal include electrocution and drowning.

Electrocution of squirrels or any other animal is considered to be inhumane and not a viable means of squirrel removal. Traps for squirrels that do not rely on lethal force are the best option because they are humane and free.

The Art of Choosing High Quality Indoor Basketball Hoops

If you have a basement in your house, it’s a safe bet that you’re going to want to put in an indoor basketball hoop. It’s not that hard to do at all as long as you have a couple of hours of time and the right tools. All you’ll really need are a saw and a drill.

The first step is to cut a hole in the ceiling which means you’re going to need a hole saw and a drill. Depending on the ceiling height, a 5/8 inch hole saw should be used. Basically, this just means you’re cutting a hole at least 5/8–inch wide and it should be no more than eight feet high. This may be a little lower than others suggest, but I’ve found that eight feet is usually more than high enough for almost all users.

Once the hole is cut, it’s time to start installing the mount. A permanent mount should be fixed to the joists under the closest rafter. The actual installation should be done with lag bolts, literally bolts that go in between the ceiling and the joists to keep them from flexing.

Tips for Shooting Squirrels if Permitted

Shooting squirrels in your yard is definitely not illegal in all areas as many of us would like to think. But it can be a gray area in some cities or counties. When shooting squirrels in the yard, you need to make sure you are following local laws that may prohibit damage to wildlife.

A great way to keep from being charged for shooting squirrels is to discuss the matter with your neighbors. If you have a common fence and facing problems caused by those pesky squirrels, you can all agree just to shoot them.

The Law concerning Shooting Squirrels in Your Backyard

Many people also have a problem with shooting squirrels in their backyard because of the laws. In some areas, homeowners are not allowed to shoot a gun (or any weapon) in their yard. But even if it is not illegal to shoot squirrels, it may possibly be illegal to shoot a gun in your yard.

If your state does not allow you to shoot a gun in your yard, you really should get to know your neighbors, because they will be the ones to call the police if you aren’t following the law. You may also have a problem with the law if you shoot someone’s pet in your yard.

Your Best Shot

In most cases, using a .22 caliber rifle shooting soft-point, hollow-point, or copper-plated ammunition is your best shot at squirrel hunting. If you use live ammunition, be sure to pick up any spent shells after you’re through hunting and don’t leave them laying around. Throwing them in the trash is a good idea too.

You can also choose a shotgun with smaller shot to take out troublesome squirrels. A good idea is to use an authorized baiting procedure which allows you to set out a trap with a source of continual food that will attract squirrels.

Most urban areas do not permit the use of a shotgun for squirrel hunting, so you should check with your city/county on any of the regulations. You will definitely need to check out the hunting laws first, and dig a little deeper to see what weapons you can use.

Alternatives to Shooting Squirrels

It’s never easy for a home owner to have to get a squirrel problem under control. You may be looking for some squirrel control products and you’ve probably seen that a lot of them involve the use of guns and that some of these guns fire pellets at rather high speeds. However, if you can’t bear the thought of killing the squirrels, and neither can your neighbors, then there is a breed of squirrel control that has been proven to work.

Instead of killing squirrels, you can take steps to secure your birdfeeders.

First, check your birdfeeders and make sure you have them hanging away from trees and other possible places that squirrels can jump from. Secondly, close off any openings that you have where squirrels can squeeze through to get to your feeder. You should also hang your bird feeder from a chain or wire. This will allow squirrels to…

A) Spend some time figuring out how get the food from your birdfeeder through the wire, and.

B) Having to Make a Really Loud and Annoying Racket as They Attempt to Open the Wire to Get to Their Food

In addition to these measures you can also purchase a squirrel feeder that is specifically designed for squirrels. This way if you have a problem with squirrels confronting your bird feeder you will be able to scare them back away. These kinds of squirrel feeders are great because they actually get squirrels to stop coming back. This means that not only will you not need to worry about squirrels at your birdfeeder, but you will also have put an end to the squirrels approach your bird feeders.

Yellow Critter-Repellent Tape

If you notice that your yard has become a haven for squirrels then chances are good than it’s because you’re been feeding them. In this event, it might be time to set up a squirrel repellent called the yellow tape.

This tape is designed for keeping squirrels off your property. The tape is yellow and hangs from the trees that squirrels use as their pathway to and from your home. The tape is painted yellow so that it’s not immediately apparent why it’s there. But over time squirrels will start to avoid areas that have the yellow tape over them.


And Rodicides
As the search continues for an effective product, it is frustrating when alternatives fail. My wife and I have tried to use advance word and loud noises to scare away squirrels from our birdfeeders, but to no avail.

I have tried commercial products such as the Rescue Click Check Squirrel Deterrent, and the Safe-Guard Dinosboro, as well as a noisemaker, but they did not work very well. I also tried the Mi-Jack Falcon Pole with Microphone Squirrel Deterrent. But, none of these worked sufficiently.

The Safe Guard Dinosboro is advertised as non-toxic but squirrels seem to like it. I tried to use it near my bird feeders, and the squirrels went after it and left the bird seed. I did not want to use it very close to the food as it also is a pet collar.

I had better success with the Rescue Click System but it uses a 9 volt battery which wears out very quickly (three weeks in my product).

The Safe-Guard Dinosboro does work but it is non-toxic, so if your dog tries to eat it, your dog could be sick.

I have a couple of issues with using the Da Bird product.

Easier to Use than a Slingshot

A slingshot to kill squirrels may sound easier than a pellet gun or airgun, but it’s really not. You’ll still have to spend money getting an airgun or a pellet gun, ammunition, and pellets. But besides that, it’s a lot more difficult to use than a slingshot. In fact, there are several products that give you the ability to use slingshot squirrel control. And since you have the equipment, you may as well use it!


The ridgid slingshot performs excellently, as long as you’re accurate enough to hit the squirrel in the head every time. This is a challenge for many people, especially those whose first time using a slingshot is now.

The slingshot squirrel control kit is a cheap and effective way to kill squirrels that have invaded your home. It’s easy to use, comes with ammunition (the rubber bands), and is reusable. The one downside is that you have to physically kill the squirrels.

Traps and Snares

Live traps, cage traps and box traps are the best option for catching squirrels. There is a simple live trap that can be modifi ed to catch squirrels and chipmunks. You will need a basic live trap, such as the Havahart Live Trap, a short length of 1×4 inch diameter PVC pipe to create an entrance and a wide mouth jar for bait and squirrel containment. A hotdog or peanut butter on a small skewer would be a very good squirrel bait.

The rule of thumb is if a little squirrel can get in, then a bigger one can get in also. If you use a wooden box trap, be sure to check it often. A squirrel caught in a box trap will get stressed and will urinate on everything in the trap, including itself.

When you trap a squirrel, locate it in a dark, secluded place like a crawl space or attic where you can release it safely. Before you release it, put the trap in the bucket while still inside. To open the door, lift up the bucket using the trap door lever and drop it down. The squirrel will run outside as soon as it gets the chance. If you are concerned about the squirrel outside, put it back in the same trap and take it to a far away wooded area.

One common misconception with traps is that they are not accepted as humane methods to catch them. The truth is squirrels can be captured humanely and effectively using traps. Trapping squirrels is great because it is a stress free way to catch them.

Other traps include leg hold traps with a dozen attachments to use such as padded jaw, cable jaw, and body grip, plus an assortment of stakes to secure them in the ground. Another option is a folding trap, or a locking capture trap. These traps use a door to trap the animal, and they are either spring loaded or controlled electronically.

Although rare, you could even catch a fox squirrel in any leg hold trap. Fox squirrels are smaller than your typical gray squirrel. To catch a fox squirrel, use the smallest jaw size.

To set a snare, a noose is created around the neck of a squirrel. You can use a can of spray paint, or a squirrel guard to keep the squirrel from getting his head caught in the noose.

Live Traps

=Good Idea or Bad Idea?

Live cage traps are a great way to eliminate squirrels without hurting them or yourself. These are the only good option for trapping squirrels when they may be a danger to pets or children.

They are also ideal when the squirrel has damaged gardens or other property. A live cage trap can contain the squirrel and any property damage so both can be addressed without the need of a firearm or more serious means of trapping.

Once the squirrel is trapped, they can be released several miles away to minimize the chance that it will return.

Squirrels can be extremely difficult animals to deal with as they tend to be very elusive and nervous of people. That makes it impossible to use either lethal or live cage trapping when you need to deal with trespassers on your property. It can also mean that if you want to shoot squirrels, you may have to consider a firearm or other location to do so.

There are laws in place against shooting an animal within city limits or within several miles of an urban area.

Did you know there is a city ordinance in place in Seattle, WA that bans people from shooting squirrels within city limits? Once you get outside of the city, you can legally shoot squirrels, but there are issues there too.

As many people with backyards in the country will testify to, shooting squirrels isn’t always the solution to dealing with them. In my experience, you can shoot a few and the rest will ignore you and take their chances.

Shooting squirrels takes a lot of time and energy to do, not to mention the possible fines or other threats to your property or person.

Cities do not allow shooting of squirrels, especially if you are trying to kill them or control their population in an uncomfortable way.

You might also find that some areas do not allow shooting of turkey, deer, or other animals. You may have to relocate animals before shooting and make sure you are obeying all laws and regulations as too humane ways to shoot squirrels.

It’s a very important to shoot after you know whether the animal is dangerous at all.

Do not overreact by shooting squirrels around the house. Because chances are you don’t need to shoot at all.

Another Weapon

When thinking of squirrel control it is important to note that squirrels can destroy your lawn and garden, in fact, you'll read a lot of stories online about how pesky squirrels have destroyed people's yards.

After determining that you indeed have a problem with your squirrels there are a number of squirrel control options available to you. You only need to make sure that you are considering all the implications when using any one type of control.

Tools of the Trade

A wide variety of squirrel control tools are available to you, from the mundane to the dangerous. Fatalities or serious injury may befall humans or other animals if the proper precautions are not taken to protect them. Remember, that you maintain your responsibility to every living thing near your property while using any squirrel control tools or methods.

Here are a few of the more common squirrel control tools:

snap traps

Air rifles or pellet guns.

Cage Traps

Spring traps.

If you happen to live in a state that restricts or prohibits the use of air rifles, it is important that you adhere to the laws set forth in your area or you may face some serious charges.

Sharing the Neighborhood with Squirrels

If you keep the above points in mind and seek help from a professional wildlife control company if you need it, you will find that your relationships with your squirrel neighbors can be a rewarding and satisfying experience.

Check out the links below to learn about how to squirrel proof your attic and how to keep squirrels out of your house.

How to Keep Squirrels from Destroying Your Car

Squirrels love car engines. If you have squirrels living in your yard or you have some out in your yard and you are worried that one might take a vacation in your engine compartment of your car, then there are a few things you can do to keep them away.

Use a squirrel repellent to keep the little critters from the area.

Install a baffle over your car's air intake.

Spray a deterrent over the areas you wish to protect.

How to Take Care of a Baby Squirrel

A baby squirrel is a baby squirrel. I don't care if it's a human child, a dog or a squirrel, first and foremost your job as a parent is to keep them alive.

The Final Answer

Are you a homeowner in Ottawa County Michigan looking for a great solution to get rid of your pesky Squirrels?

If so, then you should check out Squirrel Busters Ottawa – Squirrel Removal And Prevention.

If you don’t get control of your squirrels right away (as fast as within 1-2 weeks), then you’re going to find that they start to have more babies, having up to 15-20 babies per year.

Just be warned, if you try and kill them yourself, you may end up killing more than you meant to.

Types of Squirrels and Permits

As someone who spends a great deal of time researching about wild animals, I can’t stress enough the importance of getting your facts straight.

Some of the things being said about squirrels are ridiculous!

Or maybe they’re not so ridiculous?

Either way, I’ve come up with a short list of types of squirrels for you. Here it goes.

Red Squirrel

Striped Squirrel,.

Eastern Gray Squirrel,.

Maine Gray Squirrel,.

Flying Squirrels,.

Northern Flying Squirrel,.

Southern Flying Squirrel,.

Western Flying Squirrel

A lot of people use the terms flying squirrels and tree squirrels interchangably.

It’s very common to see them in the same sentence.

However, they are different.

Here’s the deal.

Flying Squirrels can’t fly like ducks and geese can.

However, they do have wings that they can use to glide from tree to tree.

Tree Squirrels are four legged creatures, but Flying Squirrels are not.

Flying Squirrels are also smaller than Tree Squirrels.

But they have the same number of teeth and they have functional tails.

Those are facts I’m sure that you would not be surprised about.

Stay with me as I try and get some more information about flying squirrels and tree squirrels out there.

Garnering the Truth on Squirrels

If you’re already familiar with Tree Squirrels, then consider this your refresher course.