Q: There are hunting seasons in Ontario for grey and fox squirrels, which are classified as game mammals. Why is there no hunting season for red squirrels, which are classified as furbearing mammals and can be harvested with a trapper’s licence? They are the most destructive predators of boreal forest songbird eggs and hatchlings and newborn hares and rabbits.
John Gartner, West Hill
A: The classification of red squirrels as furbearing mammals rather than game mammals is a long-standing historical approach that recognized the value of red squirrel to the fur industry. Also, it is illegal to allow a pelt to be spoiled or destroyed. While trappers can hunt red squirrel, generally speaking, shooting one has a high risk of damaging the pelt to the point where it is no longer able to be sold due to destruction by the shot.
ANSWER BY: David Critchlow,
Provincial Enforcement Specialist, NDMNRF
Originally published in the April 2021 issue of Ontario OUT of DOORS magazine. Ask a CO is also a regular feature in the print edition.