Multiple incidents of cruelty, abuse toward wild squirrels reported in Waconia

It includes one squirrel who was shot with a pellet gun then hit with a shovel.

An animal rights group is calling on authorities to more thoroughly investigate a spate of squirrel abuse incidents reported in Waconia.

In Defense of Animals said it has received multiple reports of cruelty toward squirrels in the city on the western edge of the Twin Cities. That includes:

  • Squirrels live-trapped and left in the enclosure to starve to death
  • A nursing mother squirrel shot with a pellet gun, then hit with a shovel and left "writhing in pain" 

The latter incident prompted a resident to call authorities and request the animal be euthanized.

The Carver County Sheriff's Office on Monday acknowledged this recent pattern, writing in a Facebook post it has received "a large amount of social media comments and messages on all of our platforms lately about cruelty/abuse of squirrels in Waconia over the past few days."

The department asks anyone with information about squirrel or animal abuse incidents to contact the dispatch center at 952-361-1231.

Minnesota law prohibits cruelty to animals, meaning any act that "causes or permits unnecessary or unjustifiable pain, suffering, or death." Squirrel hunting season doesn't begin until Sept. 18. 

However, the law does allow people to kill a short list of wildlife species (including squirrels) if an animal of that type is "causing damage" on a person's land or property.

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"Many homeowners believe that they can torture and kill wild animals in any way they want on their private property," the In Defense of Animals wrote. "They deem these animals a 'nuisance' just because they don't like them, not because there's property damage actually occurring. This old-fashioned mentality needs to change!"

The group said the squirrels killed in the above incidents had been eating birdseed that had fallen to the ground from property owners' bird feeders.

It's also calling on the sheriff's office and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to investigate and enforce the laws.

A spokesperson for the state agency said the DNR is aware of the complaints made by the group, adding it "takes seriously its commitment to protecting all of Minnesota’s natural resources." The DNR, along with Minnesota Federated Humane Societies and the county sheriff's office, investigated the complaints "on multiple occasions," the spokesperson said. 

"A conservation officer educated an individual in one instance about legal squirrel-trapping methods," the spokesperson continued. "At this time, other complaints either were not substantiated or found not to be violations of state law."

Bring Me The News has reached out to the Carver County Sheriff's Office for a comment.

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