Questions on: Gophers
Ron Smith, Horticulturist, NDSU Extension Service
Q. How do you get rid of pocket gophers making these mounds of dirt in your yard? They are all over my yard and are really making a big mess. (Fingal, N.D.)
A. Gophers can be controlled by exclusion, trapping, flooding, or with poison. If it truly is gophers that are causing the damage, then the mound should be fan shaped, with an offset plug and an indentation in its circumference.
I suppose the best way to get rid of pocket gophers is by trapping. This involves locating the main tunnel about 8 to10 inches from the plugged end of the mound. This could be anywhere from 4 to 18 inches deep, and can be detected when a probe suddenly drops 2 to 3 inches. Open the tunnel with a shovel, and place a couple of traps attached to a stake via a string. Plug the shovel-dug hole. Then go over to the gopher plug and remove it, and place a trap there. Be sure all three traps are securely tied to the stake with a strong twine.
If you don't have a gopher in three days pull the traps and reset in another location. Be sure to wear gloves when handling the traps to prevent contamination from human scents. Good luck!
Q: Is there a natural way to repel gophers? We don't have the heart to kill them, so we
are seeking a natural way to repel them. (e-mail)
A: Have-A-Heart traps may work sometime if you can find suitable bait, like pieces of apple to get them to move in. Once inside, the trap closes, and
you can then relocate the gopher to another area in the wild or natural environment.
Another method is to flood the gopher run. First, locate both holes; then insert a hose in the other end and turn on the water. If the gopher is in there he
will try and scramble out the other hole. They can move pretty fast above ground, so if you are going to catch it, you need someone or something right
there on the ready. Be sure to handle any cages (or the caught gopher) with heavy leather gloves for your own protection and to prevent human scent
from being left on the traps.
One other approach is to bury hardware cloth with quarter-inch openings about 18 inches deep around the area you want to protect from damage. This
exclusion method will allow you to observe the creature without suffering its damage directly.
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