Missouri Department of Conservation finds group overhunting squirrels
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A concerned citizen’s call led to multiple arrests over squirrel hunting.
A group of 16 non-resident hunters have been cited for grossly exceeding the limit of squirrels.
Francis Skalicky with the Missouri Department of Conservation says agents found the group with 471 squirrels harvested after two days of hunting near the Current River Conservation Area.
”Some people may look at this and say it’s just squirrels,” Skalicky says. “Well squirrels are game animals and in the Missouri hunting laws there’s no game animals that are less important than other game animals.”
The squirrel hunting season runs from May to mid-February with strict rules. Missouri regulations allow for a daily harvest of ten squirrels and a possession limit of two daily harvests.
The squirrels must also be separated and identifiable to each hunter, not in a large group.
This group of hunters caught had 151 squirrels over the allowed limit.
“It diminishes the opportunity for people who want to squirrel hunt the right way, the legal way,” Skalicky says. “I mean this was a massive overtaking of squirrels.”
Skalicky says this goes against hunting regulations.
“People who don’t hunt, who maybe don’t quite understand hunting, they see something like this and they say all hunters are irresponsible,” Skalicky says. “No they’re not. This is just the minority of hunters that do things the wrong way.”
A concerned citizen reported this to the department. Skalicky says that’s why the Operation Game Thief hotline is crucial.
“It’s a 24/7 live operated hotline,” Skalicky says. “It’s not something like if you call on a Friday night we get to it on Monday. 24/7 there’s somebody manning that hotline and they can connect you, you being the caller, with an agent and help investigate this.”
Those 151 squirrels over the limit were taken and are being held as evidence.
Skalicky says the investigation is still ongoing and penalties will be determined by the prosecutor in this case.
If you see a possible violation of the Wildlife Code of Missouri, you are asked to contact your local conservation agent or Operation Game Thief at 1-800-392-1111.
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