“Cottontail populations on average are 50 percent higher than we’ve seen over the last 10 years,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “Our cottontail populations remain strong statewide with the highest densities in southeast Iowa.”
Iowa’s cottontail rabbit population estimate is part of the August roadside survey that will be available online in early September at www.iowadnr.gov/pheasantsurvey.
Iowa’s squirrel population generally follows the acorn production and 2014 was a pretty good year for bur oak and red oak acorn production meaning 2015 should be a pretty good year for squirrel numbers.
“Squirrel hunting was once an important part of our heritage but hunter interest has shifted to other species, primarily deer,” said Jim Coffey, forest wildlife research technician with the DNR. “Squirrels are definitely an underutilized resource.”
Rabbit and squirrel hunting is an inexpensive way to introduce novices to hunting with little competition and is a great way for experienced hunters to get their equipment out from storage and sharpen their outdoor skills before pheasant and deer seasons begin.
Squirrel season is Sept. 5-Jan. 31, 2016, with a daily bag limit of six squirrels and a possession limit of 12. There is no restriction on shooting hours.
Rabbit season is Sept. 5-Feb. 28, 2016, with a daily bag limit of 10 rabbits and a possession limit of 20. Shooting hours are sunrise to sunset.
Hunters looking for places to go rabbit or squirrel hunting should use Iowa’s online hunting atlas at www.iowadnr.gov/hunting, with more than 600,000 acres of public land that allows hunting.