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Gopher Control Solutions

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This is the "Most Reliable" gopher trap on the market. When properly set, they have been found  to catch 18 out of 20 gophers. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture uses the Macabee throughout the country as they've found it to be a highly effective trap.

$7.95 per trap

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Lee's Gopher Getter

Liquid Bait  Biodegradable, Chemical Free, Non-Lethal,
 Environmentally Friendly!
4 oz. Bottle      $5.95
4-6 applications per bottle.  Squirt Gopher Getter Bait into the
gopher hole before inserting the trap. 
The smell helps to bring in the gopher's to your trap!

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Pocket Gopher Control

Economic Status

Pocket gophers are harmful in cultivated areas. They are particularly destructive in alfalfa fields, where they consume vegetation and their mounds hinder crop harvesting. Root crops and gardens also suffer from their depredations.

On the positive side, pocket gophers can be important soil forming agents, aiding in water conservation and soil aeration. In overgrazed pastures they feed on the larger roots of weeds, hastening the return of grasses, (if overgrazing is controlled).



Control is most effective in the spring when green surface vegetation starts to grow. Although, trapping is recommended for control in the fall when gophers are most active bringing soil up to the surface. Fumigation has very limited effectiveness against pocket gophers.



The most successful types of traps are the Black Hole Trap, Macabee and the box type with choker loop. Traps, quick and positive when properly used, last indefinitely.



1.       Locate newest mound in area.

2.       Probe to locate main runway. It will be about 15 to 18 inches (38 - 46 cm) away from the mound on the same side as the plug.

3.       Dig down to main run and remove soil so that traps can be placed far back in the tunnel.

4.       Attach a wire to each trap and fasten other end to a metal stake to serve as an anchor.

5.       Set and place two traps, one in each direction. Place trigger away from excavation.

6.       Partially cover openings as the gopher will instinctively close all open burrows. Avoid letting in too much light as the gopher may push a plug of dirt ahead of it setting off trap.

7.       Visit each trap setting morning and evening for best results.

Gopher Control Techniques and Information

Gopher control can be approached very specifically.  For our purposes here were going to lump gophers, ground squirrels and meadow mice or voles into one big problem rodent category.

All three rodents damage grapes by chewing on them.  New plantings and established vines are susceptible to both root damage and girdling.  In addition to plant damage, these rodents will also move enough dirt to redirect water away from vines and literally into a hole in the ground.  Ground squirrels specifically will chew drip lines and damage emitters.  I have observed squirrels chewing things for no other reason than the fact that they are there. 

Control of these pests is broken into three fairly broad categories: biological, chemical and trapping (as discussed above).

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Biological control includes habitat management and the encouragement of predators to inhabit the vineyard.  Habitat management is weed control.  If you have a good weed control program you will have fewer places for rodents to hide and feed unnoticed.  In addition, flood irrigation may be used to discourage rodent populations from becoming established.

Biological control of  rodents is a hot topic for one reason right now.  While choice of cover crop, weed control, irrigation practices, and discing are all effective rodent control considerations, Barn Owls definitely are in the spotlight for biological control.

Barn Owls eat gophers.  Barn Owls eat gophers that live in vineyards.  Barn Owls are fun to watch and you may learn lots of things you probably wouldn’t have known otherwise.  Barn Owls will not control your gopher problem.  I think that Barn Owl nest boxes are a great thing to have in a vineyard because you will have a few more gophers eaten than if you don’t have owls around at all.  In addition, it is nice to know that someone or something else is helping you with the rodent control problem. 

Having said all that, think about the term “biological control” a minute.  The idea is not complete eradication, but instead a management practice.  This is often overlooked when it comes to expectations from this type of control.

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Owl Boxes
If gophers, mice or rats are creating a problem, owl nest boxes can help. Owl Boxes are designed in two styles. The horizontal box or "barn box" design and the vertical box which represents a tree cavity. Both contain a unique entrance that is designed to admit the owls but exclude larger predators that may pose a threat to the owls or their young. Shipped fully assembled and ready to mount. They are pre-drilled for easy hanging and contain trap doors to make cleaning trouble free. $5.00 from the sale of each box goes to continued Barn Owl research.




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 Owl Box - Horizontal 

Call for pricing on this product

Chemical control is the next broad category to cover.  Both ground squirrels and gophers can be controlled with smoke cartridges or Aluminum Phosphide.  The latter is a restricted use product.

Most of these products are available in different formulations.  The less toxic formulations are available to the general public and the more toxic (read effective) formulations are only available to licensed applicators after a recommendation has been made by a pest control advisor (PCA).  

It is usually worth the time and money to have a professional come out and begin a rodent control program for you.  You don’t have to stick with them forever, but you can learn a lot from them and all of it will benefit the vineyard.  The most common mistake made in a rodent control program is looking for results too quickly.  Ground squirrels, gophers and meadow mice live under ground.  A glance or even a walk through the vineyard does not easily measure their activity level or population fluctuations.  Time, effort and patience are rewarded with fewer holes in the ground and less damage to vines.

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