You can shoot California ground squirrels as long as it is legal to discharge firearms on a specific property. However, it is usually illegal to discharge firearms in urban and residential areas.
This method can be time consuming. Discharging firearms often causes other ground squirrels to retreat to their burrow systems, thereby increasing the time commitment of this management approach. The use of high-powered air rifles can decrease this problem. Shooting is recommended only when it can be done safely and in rural locations where squirrel numbers are very low. Thus shooting can be useful as a follow-up approach to other methods to further reduce ground squirrel populations. Shooting is a relatively cheap method of managing Belding’s ground squirrels and is frequently used due to the limited availability of other management options. However, shooting will only be effective as a management tool if you can substantially lower the ground squirrel population (>90% reduction in population preferred).
There is a limited window for shooting Belding’s ground squirrels (generally February through July). If shooting is legal and permitted by the landowner, shooting can begin once squirrels have emerged from their burrows. Once the crop has grown too high, it becomes difficult to see the squirrels.
It is illegal to use lead ammunition in areas within the historical California condor range. Starting in 2019, it will be illegal to use lead ammunition for ground squirrel control throughout the entire state of California.
Shooting is effective during different time frames for California (above) and Belding's ground squirrel (below)