Laws To Trap And Hunt Squirrels In New York State

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New York and Vermont have squirrel problems. They can do a lot of damage to your yard and house, and many of them also carry diseases. To get rid of squirrels in New York, check the laws to trap and hunt squirrels in New York State.

You need a hunting and trapping license to hunt and trap squirrels. Furbearer hunting is not permitted with a trapping license. You must pass the NWCO exam, fill out the application, and pay the license fee to get an NWCO license.

With a New York State NWCO license, you are allowed to act as a property owner’s or lessee’s agent. This blog tells you how to hunt squirrels in New York State.

Squirrel Types Found In New York State

In New York State, there are four kinds of squirrels.

Gray Squirrel

Grey squirrel is a most common specie of squirrel in New York. The grey squirrel can be found in almost all parts of the state. It moves quickly and has a banner tail, just like the tail of a tree squirrel. The grey squirrel is a popular game animal that lives both in cities and in the woods of New York. 

The grey squirrel likes to live and find food in big trees like oaks and hickories. This squirrel is very active and can move quickly from tree to tree or branch to branch. It can also jump a long way.

Fox Squirrel

Most of the time, the fox squirrel lives in the Midwest. It is at the eastern end of its range in New York. It lives mostly in the western part of the state, especially near big rivers and lakes like the Genesee and Lake Erie. The fox squirrel is a deep orange-rust color and is bigger than the grey squirrel. It lives in trees, but it prefers open, “park-like” areas.

The fox squirrel spends most of its time on the ground. When it moves, it seems slow and lazy, not nearly as active as the grey squirrel. Hard and soft mast, like acorns, hickories, grapes, and cherries, make up most of a fox squirrel’s diet. A full-grown male fox squirrel can weigh up to 2  pounds, which is a lot for a squirrel.

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrels are little reddish brown rodents with huge dark eyes and thick white eye rings. The top of the animal and the outside of its legs are chestnut red, greyish red, brownish red, or olive red. White is on the belly, chest, and chin.

Red Squirrels carry their long, bushy tails over or against their backs. Because red squirrels go through two molts in a single year, their appearance shifts significantly throughout the year. The winter molt begins in November in New York State and ends before the end of the year.

Flying Squirrel

Northern flying squirrels and southern flying squirrels are the smallest squirrels in New York State. They only weigh a few ounces. Even though they look the same, the northern flying squirrel is bigger and reddish-brown, while its relative is smaller and grey, like a mouse. 

Both species have soft, dense, silky fur with white hair on their bellies. Their tails are about 5 inches long, broad, and flattened, and they have a lot of fur on them. Like the eyes of most animals that come out at night, theirs are big and round and black.

They can glide through the forest because they have flaps of skin that go from their wrists to their ankles. Men and women of both species are about the same size. 

Hunters who live in New York State or come to the state just to hunt have a lot of options.

  • It is against the law to hunt squirrels without a license to hunt and trap them.
  • Most Grey, Black, and Fox Squirrels live in cities, and it is illegal to hunt in New York without a license. Even though it would be hard to tell who they were.
  • Red squirrels are not protected in the state of New York, thus it is lawful to hunt them at any time of the year.

Squirrels Hunting Season In New York State

Falconry is the practice of hunting squirrels using trained birds of prey. To hunt with raptors, a person must have both a valid Falconry License and a hunting license. A falconer with a license can catch squirrels from October to March in any part of the state where these animals can be hunted.

When guns are authorized, you can shoot a squirrel. Falconry license holders can hunt male and female pheasants anywhere in the state. The first day of the season is from sunrise to midnight.

Laws Governing The Hunting Of Squirrels In New York State

The following are the only legal ways to hunt squirrels in New York State :

  • Hunting and trapping squirrels require a license.
  • A trapping license does not let you hunt furbearers.
  • You can use a light but can’t hunt from a car or ATV. All rules about how to use a flashlight and a gun apply.
  • If you are hunting without a light, you can use a light-gathering scope on any of the guns below.
    • You may use a gun in your hand, a bow, or a crossbow.
    • You can use a shotgun with a shot in it (any size).
    • Hunt squirrels with any chambered rifle, except during deer hunting season.
  • You may not use a centerfire rifle to hunt squirrels in any county or section of a county where rifle deer hunting is forbidden during deer season.
  • Smaller-caliber centerfire rifles are legal to hunt squirrels.

Laws Governing The Trapping And Relocating Of Squirrels In New York State

The New York State has rules about catching squirrels and moving them:

  • A trapper needs to take and pass a trapper education course to trap squirrels.
  • New York bans untrained squirrel trappers. A legal trap set by a third party cannot be tampered with.
  • Someone else can’t take a legally caught animal out of their trap. When setting a trap, a trapper might not be bothered by anything.
  • It is illegal to set a leg-gripping trap so the animal hangs when caught.
  • It is against the law to use leg-grabber traps with teeth.
  • Since squirrels are now officially a rabies transmission species, relocating them requires special approval from the government.
  • If a trapped squirrel looks sick, it must be humanely killed, buried, cremated, or disposed of as advised by the DEC Regional Wildlife Manager or county health office.
  • It is against the law to move or put an animal somewhere else.
  • Live-trapped animals can only be released on the property where they were caught.

How Can You Shoot And Hunt Squirrels In New York State?

Here are some NY squirrel shooting tips:

  • Avoid shotguns and high-caliber firearms.
  • Handguns, shotguns, rifles, bows, or crossbows can be used to hunt furbearers. Gun laws apply.
  • In the Northern Zone, crossbows aren’t allowed for hunting small game with a dog, save for coyotes.
  • You can hunt furbearers with any gun except during deer season. This includes archery, muzzleloading, and regular seasons.
  • During the regular deer season, you may not use a rifle larger than a.22-caliber rimfire to hunt squirrels.
  • Use can Smaller caliber centerfire rifles.22 caliber to hunt squirrels.
  • Fur-bearing animals can be hunted with air guns.
  • You can use a phone call or an electronic phone call.

It is against the law to use pellet and BB guns to hunt and shoot any squirrels you may encounter. Air guns are legal to use on squirrels and other species that are not protected.

A.25-caliber air rifle that fires lead pellets at 800 feet per second is an excellent tool for killing squirrels. Using air weapons is illegal when hunting waterfowl, pheasant, wild turkey, or big game. When hunting for smaller games, a bow or crossbow may be useful.

It is legal to shoot a wild squirrel that hurts property, whether it is on public or private land. Even though there are no specific hunting laws that say you can’t shoot squirrels on either public or private land, it is important to know the rules so you can do it legally.


In New York, it is legal to hunt and shoot squirrels. There are, however, some rules you need to follow. If you don’t have them, you could be charged with breaking the law. You need a hunting and trapping license if you want to hunt and catch squirrels. You can’t hunt furbearers with a trapping license.

To catch a squirrel, you need a gun that has been registered. If a squirrel wants to hurt you, a licensed person is allowed to kill it. You can always call the police and ask them to come to take a look at the raccoons.