Washington is home to many types of animals, including gray, red, flying, and other types of squirrels. These little creatures can be a nuisance when they start raiding your garden or attic, but is it legal to trap, hunt, and kill them?
Is It Illegal To Trap Squirrels In Washington State?
According to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), hunting, trapping, or killing the Western Gray, Douglas, red, and flying squirrels is illegal. Many species of tree and ground squirrels are protected on the protected wildlife list. Although, Washington state does have a hunting season, which allows its residents to hunt small and big game, squirrels are not included on either list.
You are only allowed to trap and remove squirrels if they are causing damage to your property and if you have a permit from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Unfortunately, the WDFW receives thousands of calls per year from citizens for advice on how to deal with human/wildlife conflicts.
If you’re having squirrel problems, knowing the legalities, which species are protected, and how to protect your property from damage is essential.
Let’s find out how to get rid of these pests and the legalities, licenses, and penalties for residents.
Is Trapping Legal In Washington State?
The Eastern gray squirrel and Eastern fox squirrel are unclassified, meaning no special trapping permit is required for the use of live traps. However, trapping nuisance wildlife is recommended as a means when you cannot resolve a conflict with the animal.
Washington state has strict rules regarding the types of traps citizens can use to trap wildlife. Below are some of the recommendations you must abide by when trapping squirrels.
|Wildlife Species||Trap Requirements||Type of Bait|
|Ground Squirrel||Single trap door and a minimum size of 5×5 inches||Vegetables, peanut butter, oats, nuts|
|Eastern Gray Squirrel||Single or double door trap with a minimum of 6×6 inches||popcorn, nuts, corn, peanut butter|
|Eastern Fox Squirrels||Single or double door trap with a minimum of 6×6 inches||nuts, sunflower seeds, corn, bread|
The endangered or sensitive species squirrels require a special permit to trap.
In addition, it is illegal to trap and relocate it without a permit to do so.
Does Washington State Have Squirrel Hunting Season?
Yes, residents can hunt certain species of squirrels, during the regular hunting season. At the time of this writing, the Washington State squirrel hunting season runs from May and June. That said, the dates can change, so check the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife website to ensure you’re abiding by the laws.
What Squirrels Can You Hunt In Washington State?
Hunting enthusiasts have an opportunity to hunt the Eastern gray squirrel and Eastern Fox squirrels, year-round, as long as they have a hunting license.
Many squirrels are listed on the state-threatened species published in 1993 when surveys indicated a decline in the squirrel population (with the Gray Squirrel being the most endangered) due to wildfires, illegal shooting, habitat loss, roadkill, disease, and degradation.
The following species are on the protected species in Washington:
- Western Gray Squirrel – Sciurus Griseus (these species are classified as endangered and can’t be hunted, trapped, or killed)
- Cascade Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel – Callospermophilus Saturatus
- Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel – Callospermophilus Lateralis
- Washington Ground Squirrel – Urocitellus Washington
- Red Squirrel – Tamiasciurus Hudsonicus
- Northern Flying Squirrel – Glaucomys sabrinus
- Douglas Squirrel – Tamiasciurus Douglasi
- Humboldt’s Flying Squirrel – Glaucomys oregonesis
All the squirrels except the Western Gray Squirrel are classified as sensitive species, meaning they are vulnerable or declining and likely to become endangered in the coming years.
This is the reason the state protects them.
Do You Need A License to Hunt Squirrel In Washington State?
Like most other states, Washington State has a hunting license requirement for residents and non-residents who want to hunt small or big game animals.
The good news is that a general hunting license lets you squirrel hunt all year round.
The license cost varies depending on your residency, but generally, it’s around $30 for residents and $110 for non-residents. That said, fees continually change, so you’ll want to check the WDFW website for the most up-to-date information.
What Are The Penalties for Trapping and Hunting Squirrels Illegally?
The penalties for trapping and hunting squirrels without a permit or out of season are harsh, especially if the animal is listed on the protected or endangered list.
Doing so can result in misdemeanor charges, fines, and expensive court costs. In addition, the department will revoke your hunting license if found guilty until the fees and sentencing are paid.
So before trying to hunt, trap or kill squirrels, make sure you understand what the Western and Eastern Gray squirrels look like.
They are easily confused, and it’s not worth the risk of breaking the law.
Can You Shoot Squirrels On Your Property In Washington State?
Since it is illegal to trap wildlife on your property, shooting a squirrel is likely illegal unless you have the proper permission. In addition, Washington state has several laws that prevent citizens from killing animals in inhumane ways.
If you’re having squirrel nuisance issues, the best thing to do is contact a professional wildlife control operator in your area. They will be able to help you determine the best course of action to take without breaking any laws.
How Do I Get Rid of Squirrels Permanently?
If you are in a situation where you need to get rid of squirrels on your property, the best action is to contact a wildlife control specialist who can help you safely and legally.
These professionals will have the necessary equipment, knowledge, and experience to remove the animals without causing any harm.
If you decide to take matters into your own hands, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, it’s essential to know that lethal methods of control, such as poison, are not only inhumane but also illegal in Washington state.
Second, even if you can trap and remove the animals from your property, they will likely just come back unless you take steps to prevent them from returning.
The most effective way to keep squirrels away for good is to eliminate any food sources that are attracting them to your property in the first place.
This may include removing bird feeders, sealing up any holes or cracks where they may get inside, and keeping your yard clean and free of debris.
Flying squirrels are the most common nuisance for attics. So, it’s crucial to identify the entry point and seal it with metal sheeting or wire mesh.
Can You Relocate Squirrels In Washington State?
According to the WDFW, it is illegal to trap and relocate animals to another area. It is illegal because it doesn’t work. Instead, it moves the problematic animal elsewhere.
In addition, it’s inhumane, as most animals don’t survive the relocation.
Squirrels and other animals choose their environment based on their habitat, food, water, and safety. Relocating them to a new area disrupts this balance and often leads to the animal’s death. In addition, it introduces new environments to diseases and can create new problems for the local wildlife.
What Are The Consequences For Illegally Trapping Squirrels In Washington State?
Trapping a wildlife animal is the last course of action to remove an animal from your property. If using a trap, you must abide by the requirements set forth under WAC 220-417-030.
If you have never trapped an animal, several professional services offer these services to remove your problem.
Anyone found trapping or illegally killing wild animals is subject to fines and penalties, including possible jail time.
Washington is one of the few states making hunting, trapping, or killing squirrels illegal. Several species of squirrels are protected, such as the Western Gray, Douglas, red, and flying squirrels.
Others, such as the Eastern gray and Eastern fox squirrels, do not have any restrictions, and hunting them throughout the year or during the hunting season is acceptable.
The state also has regulations on the types of traps you can use for wildlife.
If you’re having issues with squirrels on your property, the best thing to do is contact a professional wildlife removal service who can help you safely and legally remove the animals.
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