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How To Get Rid of Gophers

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Flooding a gopher burrow is a common method of dealing with gophers, however it has its drawbacks. First of all, you may use hundreds of gallons of water in an attempt. If you are in draught conditions and water is rationed, this is not prudent choice (and possibly even illegal). Secondly, if you are hoping to simply drown the rodent, it may or may not work. If the ground absorbs the water quickly, there may be an airspace that occurs as quickly as the water flows in. Finally, there is a good chance the gopher will run out one of its many mounds. Are you ready to dispatch the gopher when it comes out?

Fumigating has been around for sometime and there are various products, such as aluminum phosphide, that can be used. Some areas may not allow the use of a toxic gas by anyone other than a licensed professional; so find out the local ordinances before attempting fumigation. A simple version of this technique is to cover all holes at each mound then insert a lit highway road flare into the last one. the flare burns at a high temperature, using up available oxygen and emits a poisonous gas. It is a simple technique that may or may not be effective depending upon who you ask. In theory it should work - in practical usage it did not work for us.

Poisoning gophers may be the simplest and most effective method, but it has serious drawbacks. The most common poisons are strychnine laced. Check local ordinances to make sure you can legally use poisoning to deal with gophers. One of the chief drawbacks is that if strychnine is dangerous to all animals and humans too. You don't want it in the ground around your plants, you don't want to use it where children can get at it and if a rodent does consume the poison and then leaves its burrow in a weakened state, it may potentially be eaten by a pet leading to its poisoning.

Application of poison is straightforward. First locate the main run, generally a straight line between two mounds. Use a metal rod such as rebar or steel pipe to probe the ground for the tunnel. When you poke through soil and then the probe drops an extra couple inches, you have located a burrow. Enlarge the hole just enough to insert a 1" diameter pipe, and pour in some of the poison. You can make a funnel out of something like a paper plate and pour the poison into the funnel, down the pipe and directly into the burrow. Cover the hole, but avoid letting soil fall in and block the tunnel.

Trapping is more complicated, more work and may require a permit or may not be allowed in your community. The process involves locating a tunnel as described above. Two traps will be used near each mound. Dig a small trap sized hole no deeper than the burrow. Set the trap and place it into the burrow as directed in the manufacturer's instructions. Cover the trap with a board to block up the hole completely. Check the trap every day or two. If you do not have success within a week, find another tunnel and repeat the process.

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