Catch And Release Squirrels [What Does It Mean And Is It Legal?]

Catch And Release Squirrels

Many people adore having squirrels around their homes and gardens. However, others are not happy when they have squirrels in their attics or yards. They regard these little rodents as pests and want to get rid of them. One of the methods commonly suggested is to catch and release nuisance squirrels. However, some homeowners may not be sure what catch and release means; an important question is whether it is legal. 

Catch and release is one of the methods for removing nuisance squirrels from an area. The squirrels are caught in non-lethal traps and released away from the trapping area. Unfortunately, the catch and relocation of squirrels is illegal in most states in the US, so it is wise to investigate each state’s laws. 

Many people feel that catch and release is a humane, kind way to remove unwanted squirrels. So if you’re having a squirrel problem, here’s everything you need to know about catching and removing squirrels from your property. 

What Are Catch And Release Squirrels? 

It’s understandable why people take issue with squirrels in their gardens and homes – they can be a pesky nuisance. From raiding bird feeders to snatching food away from unsuspecting humans, these critters are often unwelcome visitors. 

Squirrels are clever little creatures with nimble fingers that can easily access the food in most bird feeders. 

Some gardeners become outraged when squirrels ravage their flower beds, vegetable gardens, and fruit orchards. 

Nothing is more disheartening for a gardener than to see the bulbs and seeds they planted vanish in an instant due to these nuisance rodents.

Attics, leaves, and roofs make ideal dry, quiet nesting places for squirrels. But, unfortunately, squirrels need to gnaw on everything they find. 

Wooden beams, electrical conduits, and pipes are not exempt from a squirrel’s busy teeth. They can cause thousands of dollars of damage to a house. 

Even though people are frustrated with squirrels, many do not want to kill the cute rodents. Instead, they choose the option of live trapping or catching the squirrels. 

The plan is to take them away and release them. These are known as catch and release squirrels.

What Types of Traps To Use?

Traps come in two forms: lethal and non-lethal. Lethal traps use a variety of designs to kill squirrels. In contrast, non-lethal ones utilize bait to entice the rodent inside, followed by a spring door that shuts shut upon entry, trapping them without causing harm.

Non-lethal traps are the preferred choice for many people as they adhere to humane principles. Several non-lethal traps are available, from live cages to tube and spring traps.

The trap size should be large enough for a squirrel to enter but small enough so that it will not fit through the door or openings. 

While manufacturers of most live traps claim that the animal caught is unharmed, this is not always the case. 

Squirrels often have broken digits or even legs from the door springing closed. These broken bones prevent the squirrel from moving normally when released.

A squirrel caught in a trap becomes desperate to escape, and they start gnawing on the metal bars. The result is that many squirrels caught in traps have broken teeth. 

While it is true that rodents’ teeth continue to grow, they do not grow fast enough to replace broken teeth within a few days. 

The squirrel’s capacity to consume food can be drastically affected by dental accidents incurred while in the cage.

The process of trapping the squirrels can cause numerous injuries, which will severely impact a squirrel’s health and ability to survive when it is released. 

How Far Away Can Squirrels Be Released?

Some people have caught squirrels and released them several miles away, only to have the squirrels arrive back home after a day or two. 

Squirrels can easily travel ten miles daily, making it effortless for them to become familiar with the terrain of your home’s ten-mile radius. Then, it becomes an easy journey for them to get back home again. 

Most people recommend that squirrels be moved more than fifteen miles away before being released. 

At this distance, most squirrels will not find their way back to your house.

Where Can You Release Squirrels?

When determining the area to release your squirrels, you must be watchful and thoughtful. Releasing them in a residential district can bring about frustration from those residing in that particular community.

They may also be having trouble with squirrels and do not want your unwanted squirrels added to theirs.

Different species of squirrels have preferences for certain kinds of woodland and environments. They need access to natural foods that only occur in specific biomes.    

It is best to avoid releasing squirrels where other squirrels already have an established colony. Squirrels are territorial and do not welcome strange squirrels in the area. 

The strange squirrel will be beaten up, harassed, and may even die. 

Releasing wild animals in nature reserves or conservation areas is prohibited and can earn you a hefty fine. It is, therefore, a tricky choice on where to release your captive squirrels. 

When Should Squirrels Be Released?

It is better to release squirrels during the early morning to allow them to reorientate themselves and find shelter before nightfall. 

Releasing squirrels at night or just before dusk should be avoided as it makes them targets for night predators. 

Is It Legal To Catch And Release Squirrels?

Most states in the United States prohibit capturing and releasing wild animals. However, some states allow non-game animals, such as squirrels, to be trapped but not released. 

This means that captured squirrels must be humanely euthanized. Each state specifies which methods are considered humane.

Some states allow the capture of squirrels but legislate that you must release the animal on the same property. This law is only helpful if you remove squirrels from an attic or roof.

You can trap the squirrels, seal up holes in your home, and release the squirrels in the garden. 

Some squirrel species are endangered in specific regions and may not be trapped. Therefore, it is imperative to find out the laws of your state and municipality before catching and releasing squirrels. 

Problems Of Catching and Releasing Squirrels

Unfortunately, Mother squirrels are frequently taken with complete disregard for their newborn babies in the nest. Unfortunately, this often leads to tragedy as baby squirrels perish from starvation and neglect.

Removing squirrels leaves a space in the environment, allowing other squirrels or rodents to move in. Where there is food, shelter, and water, animals will take advantage of it and make a home. 

Catching and releasing squirrels is not a permanent solution to getting rid of squirrels in your home and garden. 

Final Word

Many animal lovers that want to get rid of nuisance squirrels try to catch and release them. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal solution and not as humane as it initially appears. 

It is essential to research the laws of your municipality and state before trapping and releasing squirrels. In most cases, it is illegal or counter-productive to trap and release wild animals. 

When done correctly and in accordance with the law, catching and releasing squirrels can be a viable solution for getting rid of nuisance squirrels. 

However, the best way to get rid of nuisance squirrels is to remove any attractants that make your house and garden an inviting place for them. 

Seal up holes, trim trees away from your home, and cover food sources. 

Doing this can discourage squirrels from entering your property in the first place and avoid the need to trap and release them.  

Related Articles


Recent Posts