Tennessee's spring hunting season for squirrel opens Friday and will run through June 10.
The number of squirrel hunters in the state is in decline, including Loudon County and the surrounding area, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
"People have become more interested in deer hunting and more interested in turkey hunting," John Mike, wildlife management area coordinator for TWRA region four, said. "There has been a decline in small game hunting overall. In today's society, people want bigger, more and better."
In a release about the spring squirrel season, the TWRA called the animal "under hunted," which is the biggest reason for scheduling a spring season.
"It used to be one of those things people got geared up for," Mike said. "We've got spring squirrel season to try and spark interest."
TWRA has seen an increase in one form of squirrel hunting - using dogs.
Mike encourages people who are introducing their children to hunting to consider squirrel season as the right opportunity to do so. He said younger kids have more trouble sitting still to hunt deer, making squirrel a great alternative until they are old enough to show the patience required with hunting larger game.
"With squirrel you can move a little bit, you can talk a little bit and you still have the chance to harvest a few squirrels," he said.
Overall, the drop in hunting for squirrels has caused minimal problems, the only real concern coming from "lightly wooded" residential areas.
"We have had problems where squirrels are getting into bird feeders, chewing siding," Mike said. "On aluminum windows, for some reason, we have had squirrels chewing on the frames around the window."
In order to hunt any species in Tennessee, those born on or after Jan. 1, 1969, must complete a hunter safety course. Classes are available at the John Sevier Range in Knoxville. Call 865-594-6280 or e-mail email@example.com
for more information.