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Many of us have pesky squirrels stealing bird seed from our bird feeders.   Sometimes it looks like a particularly smart squirrel has figured out a way to get to the feeder, while others haven’t figured it out yet.  We’d like to get rid of the offending squirrel before it can teach its tricks to the others. Yet we are too soft-hearted to kill the squirrel. Can we trap the tricky squirrel and transport it far enough away that it can never return?

The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game has a web page devoted to the topic of Moving Wildlife, which states:

Massachusetts law prohibits the capture and re-location of wildlife.  Often people want to catch a problem animal and release it elsewhere. It is illegal to move any live wild animal from one area to another.”

Does this include common gray squirrels?  (Flying squirrels and red squirrels are treated differently.)

The relevant laws are:

MGL c.131 s. 5 “Open seasons: rules and regulations”, which says, in part:  “Except as provided in rules and regulations made under authority of this section, and except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a person shall not fish, hunt or trap or have in his possession any fish, bird, reptile, amphibian, mammal or carcass or part thereof…”  [Italics mine.]

MGL c. 131 s. 76 “Removal of mammal from hole, or from under ledge, stone or log”, which says:  “Except as otherwise provided in sections four and thirty-seven, a person shall not remove or attempt to remove any mammal from any hole in a tree or in the ground, stonewall, or from within or under any ledge, stone or log; provided, that, anyone authorized by the owner of lands may so remove a chipmunk, fox, flying squirrel, red squirrel, porcupine, skunk, weasel, wildcat or woodchuck.”

MGL c. 131 s. 90 “Penalties”, which says, in part: “Unless the context otherwise requires, a violation of any provision of this chapter,… for which no other penalty is provided, shall be punished by a fine of not less than twenty nor more than fifty dollars, or by imprisonment for not more than thirty days, or both. …In addition, [one] may be required to make restitution to the commonwealth for the value of each animal… as follows: … gray squirrel: twenty-five dollars per animal illegally taken or illegally possessed.”

You may take some comfort in this law:

MGL c. 131 s. 37 “Killing of game by owner or tenant of land”, which says that the owner may, upon such land:

“hunt or take by other means, except by poison or snare, any mammal which he finds damaging his property”, except that one can only do it “during the open season, unless such owner or tenant has first obtained from the director [of the Department of Fish and Game] a permit authorizing him so to do…”

So, if you can convince the Director of the Department of Fish and Game that your squirrel is damaging your property by eating your birdseed, you may be able to get a permit to kill it. (But not to relocate it.)

The Department of Fish and Game’s web page on the “Hunting of gray squirrels” summarizes the regulations and hunting season dates.

Gray Squirrel, Sciurus Carolinensis

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