HARRISBURG – If there’s one game animal that could use some additional attention in Pennsylvania, it’s squirrels. Pennsylvania Game Commission field officers report squirrel populations are strong in most areas of the state.
Gray squirrels continue to be found across Pennsylvania in sizeable numbers, and the black-phase gray squirrel isn’t hard to find north of Interstate-80 and east of the Ohio line all the way into the state’s northcentral counties. Fox squirrels also are becoming increasingly available as they continue to push east of the Appalachian Front and north through Pennsylvania’s ridges and valleys.
Squirrel populations have been enjoying the benefits of declining hunting pressure and the maturation of habitat instate for some time. These factors have spurred fox squirrel range expansion and recovery. Agency field officers believe squirrel hunting will be good to excellent in many of the state’s forests and woodlots. About the only problem squirrels are up against currently is the loss of mast caused by gypsy moth caterpillar defoliation of oak stands, which has occurred sporadically across the state.
For county-specific details on game populations, habitat conditions and where-to-go hunting information, visit the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us). Reports filed by Wildlife Conservation Officers, Land Managers and foresters are available from every county. To access them, just click on the “Field Officer Game Forecasts” link found the homepage.
“Squirrel hunting is a great way to spend a fall afternoon, whether still hunting with a shotgun are sitting against a big tree with a .22 rifle,” said Bob Boyd, the agency’s Bureau of Wildlife Management assistant director. “It’s a great time to be outdoors, and if you bring a young person along, it can be even better.
“It’s rarely a difficult task to find squirrels, so schedule some time away from work – or your chores – and get out there for some of that hunting excitement and take in the colorful countryside. It’s a ‘can’t miss’ way to spend a fall day.”
Pennsylvania’s youth squirrel hunt will be held Oct. 6-12 and is open to youths 12 to 16 years of age who have successfully completed a hunter-trapper education course and are properly accompanied by an adult. A hunting license is not required to participate.
Hunters also are reminded that squirrels are listed as a game animal that can be pursued by youngsters participating in the new Mentored Youth Hunting Program, which permits those under the age of 12 to hunt under the guidance of a mentor. For more information about this new program, visit the Game Commission’s Web site and click on “Mentored Youth FAQs” in the “Quick Clicks” box in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage.
Information on both of these youth hunting programs also can be found on page 15 of the 2007-08 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations, which is provided to each license buyer.
Squirrel hunters are required to wear at least 250 square inches of fluorescent orange clothing, visible 360 degrees, at all times. The daily bag limit for squirrels is six.