Laws To Trap And Kill Squirrels In California

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Squirrels are cute yet nuisance animals are damaging your lawn, house stuff, and more. In the end, you have no option but to trap or kill them. However, every state in the United States has different laws to deal with these creatures. You must be curious what are the laws to trap and kill squirrels in California.

No license is needed to trap and kill squirrels if the owner or tenant wants to trap them.  But a trapping permit is needed from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife if someone wants to catch squirrels for hire or to make money.

Some squirrel species in California are game animals that can’t be hunted, trapped, or killed without a permit. Each state has its own laws regarding the hunting and trapping of squirrels. This article will help you understand California’s legal requirements to trap and hunt squirrels.

How to trap and kill Squirrels legally in california

Squirrel Types Found In California

Five distinct species of squirrels can be found in their natural habitat in California. The types you’ll see mostly depend on where you live. Therefore, let’s learn about the California squirrel species.

1.   Western Gray Squirrels

The western grey squirrel is a tree squirrel indigenous to California and can be found across the state. It can be identified by the main grey color of its fur on its sides and back, as well as the striking white coloration of its underparts.

It also has ears that stand out prominently. The long, bushy, grey tails of western grey squirrels have white frost at the outer margins, differentiating them from the eastern grey squirrels and other types of squirrels.

2.   Eastern Gray Squirrels

The name “eastern grey squirrel” comes from the fact that these squirrels were originally found in the eastern areas of the United States and were later brought to California. This invasive species is a problem in California, despite the fact that it is not a native species there. Even though Eastern grey squirrels are not a native species of California they are equally invasive as other native species of California.

3.   Eastern Fox Squirrels

Similar to how eastern grey squirrels were introduced from the eastern United States, eastern fox squirrels were introduced from the eastern United States. They are the big tree squirrels in California, and many of the most important cities in the state are now home to them. Fox squirrels live in most of the United States. You can tell a fox squirrel by its red belly and black tail outline.

4.   Native Douglas Squirrels

Another species of squirrel that can be found in the state of California is the native Douglas squirrel, which is also known as the chickadee. Most of them live in the pine forests along the northern coast and the mountainous areas near the Sierra Nevada range.

Ringworm, typhus, salmonellosis, tularemia, and other infectious diseases are among the most widespread illnesses. By means of direct contact, such as bites from sick squirrels, these diseases can be transmitted from animals to people.

5.   Ground Squirrel

The Beechy squirrel, or California ground squirrel, can be found throughout California. They have fur that is a combination of grey, light brown, and dusky, giving their bodies a mottled appearance. A darker, flecked-with-light-grey stripe runs from the top of a California ground squirrel’s head to the center of its back.

According to the state department of fish and wildlife, it is legal to hunt, trap, and kill tree squirrels in California:

  • In California, ground squirrels are considered nongame species. It is against the law to hunt, trap, or take their lives at any time. 
  • The western grey squirrel and the Douglas squirrel are indigenous to California and are illegal to hunt in California.
  • The Eastern fox squirrel and the Eastern grey squirrel, not native to California, were both imported there. And a valid hunting license is required to hunt them.

Squirrels Hunting Season In California

The general hunting season for squirrels in California runs from the 2nd Saturday in September until the last Sunday in January. Starting on the 1st Saturday of August and ending the day before the regular season begins, archery and falconry enthusiasts in California can go squirrel hunting. 

During the seasons for hunting squirrels in California, the shooting hours for resident small game mammals, such as tree squirrels, are from a half hour before sunrise until a half hour after sunset. This includes the shooting hours for tree squirrels.

Most states only let people hunt grey squirrels in the winter, which is good because it’s the safest time to hunt and kill squirrels. They have fewer parasites to deal with now that ticks and other pests are less active.

Laws Governing Trapping Of Squirrels In California

The California Fish and Game Code says that squirrels are mammals that are not used for trapping. When nongame mammals cause damage to crops or other property, the owner or tenant has the right to control them in any lawful way. 

The following are California’s squirrel trapping laws:

  • Squirrel trapping is legal in California. However, it is illegal to relocate them without a license.
  • Ground squirrels can be trapped without a license in California if the owner or tenant is in command of the trapping.
  • A trapping license from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is required for anyone who traps squirrels for hire or profit.
  • Ground squirrels that are still alive in traps must be released back onto the property where they were caught right away, or they must be killed in a legal and humane way.

Laws Governing Shooting and Hunting Of Squirrels In California

If you want to hunt squirrels, you need a license, which you can get from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website. 

  • Anyone, citizen, or non-resident, who wishes to hunt big game or small game squirrels in California is required to get a hunting license, much like in most other states.
  • A hunting license for a state citizen costs $54, while a license for a nonresident of the state costs $188.74. To apply, applicants must be 16 years old.
  • When an animal is on a protected or endangered species list, the penalties for illegally shooting or capturing squirrels outside their permitted seasons or without a permit are severe. 
  • This is especially true when the animal in question is a squirrel. If you do so, you could face prosecution for a misdemeanor, fines, and high court costs.

How Can You Shoot And Hunt Squirrels In California?

With a hunting license, you can shoot different squirrel species in California during the archery and falconry seasons and the general season. If you stay in the open zone, you don’t need any other permits to hunt squirrels in this state. A variety of firearms are suitable for hunting squirrels.

In California, squirrels can be shot effectively with a. 22-caliber rifle or a.12-gauge shotgun. If you’re looking for the most outstanding caliber for squirrel hunting, go no further than the.22. 

While the.177 might be a touch more accurate or silent, the Game technology in a.22 can be just as lethal and quiet as it is accurate.

Yes, It is legal to shoot ground squirrels in California with a pellet gun if it is authorized to discharge guns on the land because a pellet gun has the power to damage tissues if its projectile speed is up to 350 fps or more. Many state laws. However, it is illegal to kill squirrels in California through firearms.


Getting rid of squirrels by trapping or hunting them is not ideal, but it may be the only viable option. You may attempt this if you have a valid license to trap squirrels. Capturing a squirrel in California is not illegal. Relocating them without permission is against the law. 

When the property owner or renter takes care of ground squirrels in California, they don’t need a license. You can get the license you need to hunt squirrels at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.