In the Boise area, we have the Northern Paiute Ground Squirrel – NP (Whistle Pigs). They are legal to shoot and are normally out from February to July. They are underground during the rest of the year. There is a close sub-species that occurs North of the Payette River that cannot be hunted. Therefore, when you are in the lowlands, do not shoot any ground squirrels North of the Payette River, as you may be shooting one that is protected.
In the mountain areas North and South of Boise, there is another squirrel named the Columbian Ground Squirrel. They are much larger than the Northern Paiute and are found up high in the mountains. The Columbian Ground Squirrel is typically found in lush areas, within the pine trees, rocks and dead falls. We hunted them last week up in the mountains near Cascade and found a bunch. Since the areas they inhabit are normally cooler, oftentimes they will be out until late July. They are not protected (non-game animal).
Southeast Idaho/South of Twin Falls areas hold the Belding’s Ground Squirrels. They are bigger than the NP and not protected at all (non-game animal).
East Idaho/Montana areas have the Richardson’s Ground Squirrels. They are another Small Ground Squirrel and can be found in flatlands, up to higher elevations. They are also not protected (non-game animal).
Lastly, are the Rockchucks (Yellow Bellied Marmot). They are found down low in the valleys, near farmland, or other green areas, all the way up to the high mountains. They are much larger than their Ground Squirrel cousins and they are not as prolific.
Some warnings. Hunting South of Boise is typically good, but there are closed areas you need to be aware of (check with the Boise BLM office for maps, etc). Also, there have been yearly reports of the plague in the Ground Squirrels in this area. The plague is transmitted by fleas and can be passed on to humans. To avoid being infected, follow some basic safety guidelines like the ones I spell out in this video:
Some final thoughts:
1) You are required to hold a hunting license for anything in Idaho that has a heartbeat.
2) There are lots of opportunities to hunt varmints, but it takes some time researching and scouting. The good thing is that many of the opportunities are available on public land.
3) Red Squirrel hunting information (.pdf): https://idfg.idaho.gov/sites/default/files/2018-red-squirrel-seasons-rules.pdf
4) Red Squirrel should not be confused with the Eastern Fox Squirrel. The EFS is the big ones you see in older neighborhoods and are also in a lot of the Wildlife Management Areas. Eastern Fox Squirrels are non-game animals and have no season/bag-limit.
A good morning hunting Belding’s Ground Squirrels:
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