Is It Illegal To Feed Squirrels In California? [Laws and Regulations]

is it illegal to feed squirrels In California

Many homeowners find themselves feeding squirrels, birds, and other wildlife. They invest in a squirrel feeder, hoping to attract squirrels to their yard. But is it illegal to feed squirrels in California?

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), it is illegal to harass squirrels and other wildlife, which includes feeding them on public or private property. These laws were enacted because feeding squirrels bring unwanted wildlife into residential communities. 

California has 58 counties; unfortunately, the laws and regulations will vary depending on where you live. 

So it’s best to check the laws in your area. 

However, here’s what we found regarding the laws and regulations on feeding wildlife on private and public properties. 

Is It Illegal to Feed Squirrels In California?

The Fish and Game Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 251.1 clearly states, “No person shall harass any wildlife animal. Harassment consists of any intentional act that disrupts an animal’s normal behavior. This includes sheltering, breeding, and feeding squirrels. 

These laws were enacted to protect the animals. Squirrels have a natural instinct to forage for food; their diets consist of nuts, seeds, fruits, and insects.

When humans feed them, they can unintentionally alter the squirrels’ natural behavior and diet, harming them in the long run.

Penalties for Violations

Fines and penalties will vary. However, if you are caught feeding, removing, or harassing any wildlife, including squirrels, you are subject to a misdemanor. 

You are subject to penalities of up to six months in jail, $1,000 fine, or both. 

Feeding other wildlife animals that result in nuisance or health hazards for your neighbors can result in a citation and fine of up to $500. 

In addition, if your wildlife feeding causes property damage or injuries to any person, it can result in additional charges and penalties. 

Why These Laws Are In Place?

Feeding squirrels may seem harmless. However, the California Legislature has implemented these laws for the following reasons. 

Ecological Impact

Feeding squirrels can have a significant impact on the environment. When humans feed squirrels, they become dependent on humans and may stop foraging for natural food. 

This can lead to overpopulation, which can cause damage to gardens, crops, and other natural habitats. 

Additionally, when squirrels become overpopulated, they can spread diseases to other animals, including humans.

Health Risks

Feeding squirrels poses health risks to people and other animals. Squirrels can carry diseases such as leptospirosis, salmonellosis, and tularemia.

These diseases can be transmitted to humans through contact with their saliva, urine, or feces. 

In addition to the health risks, feeding squirrels can also lead to aggressive behavior. 

Squirrels that are fed regularly may become territorial and aggressive towards humans that they perceive as a threat to their food source. 

Can You Feed Squirrels In Public In California

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), feeding all wildlife animals in public is illegal. 

Feeding wildlife can lead to several issues, such as:

  • Malnourishment or death of the animal from eating unhealthy food that is not their regular diet. 
  •  This leads to the overpopulation of squirrels in one area. 
  •  With the increase in population, it leads to more vehicle animal accidents. 
  •  More complaints from homeowners regarding nuisance squirrels. 

Alternatives to Feeding Squirrels

There are various alternatives to consider if you want to avoid attracting squirrels to your property or are worried about the legality of feeding them in California.

Natural Food Sources

Squirrels are opportunistic feeders and will eat a variety of foods, including nuts, seeds, fruits, and insects. 

If you’re looking to provide food for squirrels without actually feeding them, consider planting trees and shrubs that produce nuts or fruits, such as oak, hickory, walnut, apple, and pear. 

What To Do If Neighbors Are Feeding Squirrels

If your neighbors are feeding squirrels and causing damage to your property or becoming a nuisance, here are some things you can do. 

Talk to Your Neighbors

The first step is to talk to your neighbors and explain the situation. Let them know how their actions affect you, and ask them to stop feeding the squirrels. 

Be polite and respectful, and try to find a solution that works for both parties.

Contact Local Authorities

If talking to your neighbors doesn’t work. Contact your local animal control or wildlife agency to report the problem. 

Use Deterrents

You can implement several deterrents to keep squirrels from entering your property. 

For example, you can use spicy spices as deterrents or install motion-activated sprinklers to scare them away. 

Consider putting up barriers or covering your plants and garden with netting to protect them from squirrels.

Seek Legal Help

The last option is to seek legal help. A lawyer can advise you on your rights and options and help you take legal action if necessary.

Other Wild Animals It’s Illegal to Feed In California

Feeding any wildlife is illegal in California. Failure to abide by these laws can result in harsh penalties. 

Final Word

California has strict wildlife laws in place to protect both the animals and humans. There are harsh penalities for feeding squirrels, but you likely won’t get into trouble if you put up a squirrel feeder in your backyard. 

That said, if your neighbor complains about it, you need to stop feeding them. If you want to attract squirrels to your yard, consider planting trees and bushes that will attract them. 

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