Posted: May 27, 2011
Home ownership is hard enough, but when nature disrupts order, it makes things even more difficult. While in my first home in Eau Claire, I had problems with moles. When I moved into my new house along a small pond in the Village of Lake Hallie nearly three years ago, I was challenged by geese. Now, I am battling the dreaded pocket gopher.
Pocket gophers, not to be confused with the smaller, cuter striped gopher, are worse than any other varmint I have encountered. Although there are many methods to poison the rodent, I have (so far) only attempted to rid my yard of the creatures by either flushing them out with water, high-pitched sounds or smoke bombs.
Moles are a nuisance and can usually be forced out or trapped within a week's time. Geese are obnoxious and messy. But, this particular type of gopher, similar to what Bill Murray's character in the movie "Caddy Shack " encountered, is extremely destructive. I have already witnessed a portion of my lawn inhibited by what I hope is only one famly of the species.
After doing extensive research, I have learned that pocket gophers, which are not protected by federal law, are herbivores. This means that dandelions, grass and shrubs are fair game. Unfortunately for a homeowner, lawn infiltration by pocket gophers means that deep tunnels form beneath the surface creating a vast underground network. The telltale sign of a pocket gopher is the presence of fresh soil mounds over their holes. As of this moment, I have five active mounds.
I have flushed water down their holes, lit specially-designed smoke bombs and purchased "sonic" sound sticks that are all supposed to deter the pocket gopher community from becoming too comfortable. To date, nothing has worked very well. I have spent upwards of $100 so far, including the purchase of two traps that I intend to lay down in one of the tunnels later this week.
I could plant poison pellets in the gopher holes, but I'm afraid that one of the house cats who specializes in killing mice will end up becoming the unintended target. Likewise, I have friends who would be willing to test their sharp-shooting skills, but I would rather not kill anything unless absolutely necessary.
In the meantime, I am open to suggestions. Otherwise, I'm afraid that my neighbors may see me attempt to solve the problem like Bill Murray's character did in "Caddy Shack ". For those unfamiliar with the movie, there was a lot of dynamite involved.