Outdoors

Mississippi squirrel season opened this week

MCCLATCHY FILESpring Squirrel season is underway.
MCCLATCHY FILESpring Squirrel season is underway. KRT

The statewide squirrel season started May 14 and ends on June 1.

The bag limit is only four squirrels per day, unlike the eight squirrels during the fall.

Squirrels may not be found in hardwood forests like the fall when plenty of acorns and nut crops are usually abundant.

Fruits, berries, mushrooms, and insects are eaten by squirrels in the spring time.

Most of the public lands offer spring squirrel hunting opportunities. Most allow squirrel hunting with dogs. Anyone planning to hunt public land should consult the regulations for those areas. Some could have season dates and rules that differ from general, statewide regulations.

Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks Small Game Biologist Rick Hamrick projects low results.

"I do not expect there to be a lot of squirrels killed in the spring due to less people hunting during this season," Hamrick said. "There were not a lot of days spent spring squirrel hunting on WMAs last season, and I would suspect the trend to be similar this year. It is hard to get a very accurate estimate from surveys of licensed hunters because such a small proportion participate in the season. Although participation is low, it does provide some additional opportunity to those that choose to utilize it."

On public lands, more people participate in non-hunting recreational use during the spring. Visibility can be reduced by spring vegetation growth. Hunters on public and private land should be aware of what lies beyond their target when shooting.

The state has two species of squirrels: the eastern gray squirrel and the eastern fox squirrel. Both species are fairly common to all regions of the state, but gray squirrels are more common. Both gray and fox squirrels have two major breeding periods in Mississippi. They also breed some throughout the year. The winter breeding period results in young born January to March. The summer breeding period results in young born June to August. The summer breeding period is usually more productive.

Squirrels have fairly high death rates, but squirrel numbers stay steady when enough quality habitat is available. In the wild, squirrels live about 18 months. Food availability affects squirrel survivor most, but hunters, bad weather, car accidents and disease are the main reason squirrels die.

Hunters should watch for snakes, mosquitoes and ticks, usually found during squirrel season.

The spring squirrel season was created by legislators two years ago after small game hunters requested it a decade ago.

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