Quebec man aiming for legal squirrel hunt

The Canadian Press
Morgan Lowrie

MONTREAL–Squirrel meat soon could be on the menu in Quebec if a Montreal university student succeeds in his quest to make it legal to hunt the furry rodents.
Martin Poirier has started a petition to convince the provincial government that adding squirrels to its list of game animals isn’t such a nutty idea.
Poirier, 21, points out it’s already legal in many provinces and that Quebec allows the killing of other small game such as rabbits, marmots, raccoons, pigeons, and quail.
“Grey and red squirrels are native species in our territory, they’re healthy and the population isn’t in danger,” he noted.
“There’s really no reason why it shouldn’t be allowed.”
In the petition, Poirier argues legalizing the hunt would benefit the province by giving new hunters an easier and cheaper way to get started.
While hunting moose and bear can be expensive and involve long trips, he said squirrel hunting can be done in an afternoon.
“It would be a good way for youth and new hunters to start hunting before moving on to big game,” he reasoned.
Poirier said squirrels can be legally hunted in Ontario, Manitoba, B.C., Nova Scotia, and P.E.I.
One wildlife expert said he doesn’t see any reason the critters’ numbers couldn’t survive a regulated hunt in Quebec, as well.
“Population densities have gone up quite a bit so in terms of harvesting them in a well-controlled system, I don’t really see a problem,” said David Rodrigue, executive director of the Ecomuseum zoo in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Que.
He said the animals might carry some disease or bacteria, but not necessarily moreso than any small game.
Poirier admitted his idea has been met with some resistance on social media, mostly from people who live in cities and oppose hunting.
“You could say people have an emotional attachment because the animal is seen as ‘cute,'” he said.
He added some people also are picturing their local park squirrels being gunned down when, in reality, any hunting would take place outside urban areas.
Poirier’s petition, which is available on the Quebec legislature’s website, had more than 450 signatures as of midday Friday.
And although Poirier has never tried eating one, he pointed out they’re considered a delicacy in some circles.
Montreal celebrity chef Martin Picard apparently is a fan–even having included a recipe for “squirrel sushi” in a 2012 cookbook.