Can You Kill A Squirrel In Your Backyard? [Is It Illegal?]

can you kill a squirrel in your backyard

Indigenous to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa, squirrels are known to be quite witty in their survival techniques. Suppose you have a squirrel problem and want to take back ownership of your yard to prevent it from looking like an archaeological site. In that case, you probably ask, “can you kill a squirrel in your backyard without getting in trouble?”

The killing of squirrels in your backyard is dependent on which state you reside in. Although most states view squirrels as legal game, some boundaries exist. Therefore your best option is to consult your local wildlife authority to inquire about hunting legalities in your area.

We will explore these boundaries, the law surrounding killing a squirrel in your backyard in different states in the U.S., and if there are any legal ramifications.

U.S. Law Regarding Killing A Squirrel In Your Backyard

The increase of the squirrel population in the U.S. has seen the rise in an abundance of Gray squirrels. You can consider these squirrels as nuisance animals. 

To curb this problem, the majority of the 52 states in the U.S. allows homeowners to kill and dispose of Gray squirrels from their backyard without facing any legal ramifications.

However, there are boundaries on the location, the state, the squirrel species, and the weapon used. For example, most cities and metros prohibit you from discharging a firearm within certain city limits. In addition, some states have stricter bylaws concerning killing squirrels in your backyard. 

Below are some of these states.

Can You Kill A Squirrel In Your Backyard In Florida?

Florida is home to many nuisance animals, among them squirrels. The Florida Fish and Wildlife conservation dictate that you must familiarize yourself with Florida’s rules, laws, and regulations concerning killing a squirrel in your backyard. 

The law regulates that as soon as they have entered your backyard, you have two options: humanely kill it or release it on the same property. 

Trapping, drowning, electrocution, poisoning, and suffocating of squirrels may constitute inhumane killing, leading to legal implications if the authorities are aware of this behavior.

Can You Kill A Squirrel In Your Backyard In California?

Suppose you are experiencing a squirrel problem with destruction to your property. In that case, you can apply for a special permit on the condition that you have sufficient evidence to substantiate your claim. California law dictates that you can only kill a squirrel during hunting season with a license.

However, the Eastern Fox squirrel is an invasive, non-native species, and it is lawful to kill this species of squirrel at any time in your backyard without a permit. Death by poisoning is, however, considered inhumane and strictly prohibited.

In this event, the Conservation or Wildlife Authorities have the right to issue a fine or motivate for persecution. In addition, using a firearm within the city limit also constitutes illegal and reckless behavior.

Can You Kill A Squirrel In Your Backyard In Washington?

You can contact the local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Evictor offices on updates regarding squirrel trapping restrictions, as these change regularly.

On condition that you have a hunting license, the Eastern Gray squirrel and the Eastern Fox squirrel can be killed in your backyard all year round if you use live traps. However, you will require a permit should you opt to use other forms other than live traps.

The Western Gray squirrel is considered a protected species. Therefore, the law prohibits hunting, trapping, or killing this species.

Although the Douglas squirrel, the Northern flying squirrel, and the red squirrel are protected species. You can apply for a special permit in emergencies due to property damage.

Can You Kill A Squirrel In Your Backyard In Virginia?

Suppose a landowner kills a squirrel for his use in his backyard. In that case, he will not require a permit during closed hunting season because the squirrel threatens human health and safety. His family members may also legally share the same privileges. 

However, in this regard, you will need to contact the Commonwealths Attorney’s office regarding the law surrounding tenants.

Can You Kill A Squirrel In Your Backyard In New York?

In the state of New York, red squirrels are considered a protected species. There is no restriction on killing all other unprotected squirrel species in your backyard. A special permit is only required when opting to kill unprotected squirrel species with a crossbow, firearm, or bow.

Can You Kill A Squirrel In Your Backyard in Massachusetts?

According to Section 37 Of Mass General Law 131, it is lawful for the landlord or tenant to kill squirrels in their backyard on the condition that there is proof of damage to property. 

In this event, you must report this killing to the Massachusetts Wildlife Authority within 24hrs. The killing of squirrels by poison or snare is prohibited.

Laws Regarding Hunting Of Squirrels In Your Backyard

While most squirrels are killed due to their annoying behavior of foraging and destroying lawns, some consider squirrel meat highly sustainable and delicious. Therefore, if killing a squirrel is for this purpose only, other than them causing any form of destruction to a property, it falls under the same laws as hunting squirrels.

Hunting squirrels during the open season with a hunting license is considered acceptable. 

You must obtain a special permit if hunting them during the closed season. You cannot shoot a squirrel in your backyard if you live close to neighbors, in an open area, and any vehicles or objects. Considerations also need to be given in that you need to have the right weapon. 

If you opt to use an air rifle, considering that they come in different types, calibers, and firing mechanisms, it is essential to ensure that it has pellet projectiles rather than B.B.s.

The law doesn’t acknowledge B.B. guns as a good hunting weapon, as it does not offer a clean kill. In addition, a shot from a B.B. gun is known to injure squirrels instead of killing them, resulting in slow torture, which from a legal stance is inhumane.

Can Squirrels Be Killed In Your Backyard By Archery?

In most of the U.S., except the district of Columbia, where bylaws protect the squirrels, killing squirrels by archery is allowed. However, it is acceptable only by special license as there are restrictions on the logistics regarding the distance between the neighboring properties.


Before killing a squirrel in your backyard, it might be advisable to check the squirrel species and the bylaws surrounding them. Although U.S. law has specific laws regarding killing squirrels, as mentioned above, some states require a permit.

You might want to consult your local wildlife authority to inquire about squirrel hunting legalities in your state.

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