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10/01/2014 @ 07:12 AM

Rabbit, Squirrel Hunting Seasons Open September 1

   

From the IDNR

The 2007-08 hunting seasons for cottontail rabbits and fox and gray
squirrels opens September 1. The number of cottontail rabbits in Iowa
is down about 30 percent from last year and that decline is spread
statewide, based on the Iowa Department of Natural Resources annual
August Roadside Survey.

“I suspect the dry conditions this summer likely reduced summer
reproduction. Research shows dry, hot summers reduces the quality of
green vegetation and that can impact female cottontail reproduction,”
said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist with the DNR.


The best cottontail rabbit numbers are found in southern and eastern
Iowa. There are several effective techniques used to hunt rabbits
including stomping brush piles, walking slowly through abandoned
farmsteads or along brushy fencerows, or wooded draws. The best form of
rabbit hunting is done with the companionship of one or more beagles,
said Bogenschutz. Beagles and other trailing dogs can increase success
and improve the quality of the hunt.

The cottontail season remains open until Feb. 28, 2008, the daily bag
limit is 10, and the possession limit is 20. Shooting hours are from
sunrise to sunset. Hunters can view the results of the August roadside
survey of cottontails in early September on the DNR’s website at
http://www.iowadnr.com/wildlife/files/uproad.html

Squirrel numbers are more challenging to estimate because the DNR does
not survey Iowa’s squirrel population. Squirrel populations typically
peak following good mast years and last there was an average mast crop
across Iowa, so statewide, squirrel numbers should be similar to last
year.

“Even with last year’s average mast crop, hunting opportunities for
squirrels are excellent in Iowa because hunting pressure is low,” said
Todd Gosselink, Iowa's forest wildlife research biologist. In the early
1960s, Iowa had 150,000 squirrel hunters and a harvest of more than 1
million squirrels. Compared to last fall where 27,746 squirrel hunters
harvested 165,225 squirrels in the Hawkeye State.

Although habitat for squirrels has increased in the state over the last
30 years interest in the sport has declined. Gosselink attributes this
decline to more opportunity to hunt other species, like turkey and deer,
and the decline in Iowa’s rural population.

Squirrel hunting is best done in one of two ways: the sit-and-wait
technique and the still-hunting technique.

The sit-and-wait technique is used near likely feeding areas such as
beneath oak, walnut, or hickory trees or corn-forest edges. The
still-hunting technique is employed by slowly walking through forested
areas and stopping frequently to watch for feeding squirrels. The best
hunting times usually are during the morning and afternoon feeding
hours.

The squirrel season extends through Jan. 31, 2008, the daily bag limit
is 6 (fox and gray squirrels combined) and the possession limit is 12.
There is no restriction on shooting hours. Fox squirrels can be found
anywhere there are a few acres of trees, but gray squirrels are
generally limited to the heavily forested areas in eastern and southern
Iowa.

For information on rabbit hunting, contact Bogenschutz at 515-432-2823.
For information on squirrel hunting, contact Gosselink at
641-774-2958.

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