Barnett Reservoir officials gave final approval in November to open lands below the dam, adjacent to the spillway, for youth-oriented squirrel hunts in February. It will be the first time that squirrels have been legally hunted in the area in more than 50 years.

“We’ve had our deer hunters from our archery draw hunts tell us that we have a lot of squirrels and raccoons below the dam,” said Craig Hunt, Director of Parks and Recreation for the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District. “We also had people asking us if we would consider opening the area for squirrel hunting.

“In looking at it, and knowing we had such a limited area — less than 300 acres on each side of the river — we decided that while it was enough room to hunt, there were some limitations that we’d have to have. The main thing is that we will not allow dogs. There simply was not enough acreage to have two or three groups of hunters and their dogs.”

The PRVWWD Board of Directors was unanimous in its support of the season, and also that it be youth-oriented. There must be at least one youth, aged 15 and under, in each hunting group, and that child must be accompanied and under the direct supervision of a licensed (or exempt) adult over the age of 21. All members of the party may carry a firearm and harvest squirrels, and all hunters must wear orange.

“The other key rule is that we do not allow rifles of any type, and that includes a .22 rimfire,” Hunt said. “We only allow shotguns.”

For more information on the hunts, and sign-in/sign-out rules, visit the PRVWSD online at therez.ms