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Author Topic: Gopher Gold  (Read 549 times)

Oolie

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Gopher Gold
« on: December 02, 2018, 03:29:46 PM »
Not sure this is the correct place for this discussion, but I couldn't find a subsection most appropriate for it. Please move if incorrectly placed.

So I am not a fruit grower so much as a Squirrel and Gopher grower.

The soft sandy loam I grow in supports abundant rodent populations, and I'm always working towards reducing their numbers.

Last year I removed 29 gophers, and this year I have removed 39 so far.

I am working on a hillside of two acres, but most gophers are within a few meters of the irrigated areas.


Intro out of the way, I find that gophers are some of the worst pests you can have, especially in an arid place like SoCal. All the time selecting and breeding superior cultivars, troubleshooting nutrient issues, spraying for pests and diseases, and the priciest water in the country, just to have your trees die due to gopher damage, or be severely stunted due to all their roots being consumed by the pests.

I am of the opinion that the quicker you deal with them, the less opportunity they will have to make all your efforts go to waste.

I find the best times to target them are immediately after a heavy rain, as the softer soil is much easier for them to excavate, and the gophers use the opportunity to lengthen their networks which can be several meters long. That being said I am getting more and more during the dry times between rains, though they are much less active.

There are many alleged methods for dealing with gophers, from blowing their runs up with propane, to using exhaust gas to suffocate them, to using chewing gum to block their digestive track. I use traps, because evidence is everything. I use several types of traps, from Macabees to Victor easy-sets, but none have been as effective as the Trapline traps. The Trapline traps are effective for a number of reasons, being short, they are easy to rotate down a curved path, and can be placed deeper in a tunnel. Wide clearances in the moving areas allow the traps to function even if they are full of dirt. They come in multiple sizes, I use the ones recommended on the web page, and I find that the best odds come from matching the size of the trap to the size of the tunnel.

When I set traps I look for fresh mounds, then dig back to the main run, and set on the main run, in all continuous directions. After setting the traps I then plug the hole with bunched up weeds. I use whatever is most prevalent in the area near the activity. That said, gophers have preferences, and I find they prefer mustard and radish over other types of weeds, though sunflowers and horehound work well if it is all that is available.

I find that if they leave a hole open, I can get them almost every time just by setting a single trap deep into the opening and closing the hole with weeds, but more often than not I'm trapping on main runs.

Is there anyone else with better advice out there? I'm finally getting the last ones (hopefully) from the most heavily planted areas, so fingers crossed my efforts won't be wasted in the future.

DurbanDude

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Re: Gopher Gold
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2018, 04:32:19 PM »
I've caught 35-40 gophers this year, mostly with Macabee traps and a few Cinch traps. Recently I just bought 4 Trapline traps to try them out. So far I've caught nothing with them but I will keep trying, only good thing I can say about them is they have excellent corrosion resistance and are easy on the wallet. Cinch traps are costly and have no corrosion resistance so you are always using sandpaper on the critical parts. Macabee has just always worked  for me even when they are rusted.

Oolie

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Re: Gopher Gold
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2018, 04:52:26 PM »
Many of my Macabees are so rusted that they no longer function.
That is an added benefit of the Traplines, as they are aluminum which does not rust like the Macabees.

Though I do modify my Traplines a bit, I grind the outer sides of the clamps to a steep angle in order to ease insertion into holes.

spaugh

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Re: Gopher Gold
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2018, 01:32:59 PM »
I got lucky a couple years ago and amazon had a screw up on the macabee price.  Its was 24 traps for 40$ 

They seem to work ok. 

I wanted to order some gopher snakes but never found a good place.  Usually its only rattle snakes in my yard.  Ocassionally theres other types but 9 out of 10 are red diamond rattlers.
Brad Spaugh

Oolie

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Re: Gopher Gold
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2018, 03:11:36 PM »
I am up to 42 now, but I am starting to get misses in critical areas, seems the gophers are triggering the traps without getting caught.

I need to invest in a greater number and greater size range of traps.

I have now noted that every single tree on the property showing slow growth, or in decline seems to be under attack by gophers.

The good news is that the trees which have had their gophers removed now show excellent growth.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2018, 03:57:17 PM by Oolie »

TheWaterbug

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Re: Gopher Gold
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2018, 01:17:25 PM »
I use Victor Black Box traps, and they work very, very well.


I once set Trap #1 and then Trap #2, and then turned around to see that the wire on Trap #1 was up. "I must have forgotten to set it," thought I.


Nope! I'd caught a gopher within 5 minutes of setting the trap. He was still warm when I removed him.  :o


The only bad part about the Victor Black Box is that, sometimes, the gopher bites down on the trigger wire and then goes into rigor mortis. You have to literally pry its jaws apart to get it off the trap.


The first time I had to do this I thought, "If this guy comes back to life in my hands I'm going to soil myself!"  ;D


Another problem with most reusable traps is that you have to check them pretty much every day, or else your "prizes" will start to rot or get eaten in the traps.


What's grosser than removing a gopher from a trap? Removing half a gopher from a trap.  :o
Sunset 23/USDA 11a, Elev. 783', Frost free since 8,000 BC. Plagued by squirrels, gophers, and peafowl, but coming to terms with it!

Oolie

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Re: Gopher Gold
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2018, 01:24:49 PM »
I use Victor Black Box traps, and they work very, very well.


I once set Trap #1 and then Trap #2, and then turned around to see that the wire on Trap #1 was up. "I must have forgotten to set it," thought I.


Nope! I'd caught a gopher within 5 minutes of setting the trap. He was still warm when I removed him.  :o


The only bad part about the Victor Black Box is that, sometimes, the gopher bites down on the trigger wire and then goes into rigor mortis. You have to literally pry its jaws apart to get it off the trap.


The first time I had to do this I thought, "If this guy comes back to life in my hands I'm going to soil myself!"  ;D


Another problem with most reusable traps is that you have to check them pretty much every day, or else your "prizes" will start to rot or get eaten in the traps.


What's grosser than removing a gopher from a trap? Removing half a gopher from a trap.  :o

Thank you very much.

I have a question for you though, are these traps as large as they really 4" wide?

That larger size trap may work well for the big runs I've been tunneling into lately.

I have been encountering traps that maim but don't kill somewhat more often as the gophers become more "trap aware". Sometimes the trap will just be barely holding on to a gopher, in which case it is best to leave the trap in the hole, dig around from the other side and remove the gopher. If you don't, the gopher will almost always be able to free itself from the trap as you try to pull it out, which can make it much more difficult to catch them in the future as they 'wise up'.

We are at 44 now, the gophers are much more active with the recent rainfall, but I'm struggling to track down the gophers in the critical areas of the yard. By following the runs, I'm finding just how little roots my trees actually have. What a bummer.

spaugh

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Re: Gopher Gold
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2018, 01:49:32 PM »
Sounds like a major infestation.  What part of town do you reside?  Can you get some snakes to let loose?  Setting traps forever is not a good use of time.  If you can get a snake population to take care of it, its a better long term solution.
Brad Spaugh

Oolie

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Re: Gopher Gold
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2018, 07:21:41 PM »
Sounds like a major infestation.  What part of town do you reside?  Can you get some snakes to let loose?  Setting traps forever is not a good use of time.  If you can get a snake population to take care of it, its a better long term solution.

Granite Hills, might as well be "Gopher Hills".

We have a pretty steady population of Gopher and King Snakes, but nearly every property around has been recently developed, so not a whole lot more cover for them.


I agree on the time, it is a huge time commitment, but knowing it's no longer a threat is pretty important when gophers cause so much damage. I spoke with someone located nearby, and they relayed that they lose an average of 4 trees a year to gophers. I find that pretty harsh, but not unbelievable. I have lost most of my trees right when they reach bearing size ~3 years. When you put so much effort into a tree just to lose it before tasting a mature fruit, the time commitment suddenly seems worth it.

I wanted to share a tip on trapping. It's really important to double-triple check your traps before leaving them. I start by using the trap to ream the runs out. I do this in order to make sure that the action of the trap will not be obstructed by the tunnel walls, then I trigger the trap in its intended location 2-3 times in order to verify the trap move without obstruction. Then I put the trap in place and slightly depress it into the soil in the bottom of the run.

Seems to work well, I just broke 50 with more on the way.

shaneatwell

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Re: Gopher Gold
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2018, 05:38:20 PM »
What size tree is no longer threatened by gophers?
Shane

hawkfish007

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Re: Gopher Gold
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2018, 06:43:34 PM »
What size tree is no longer threatened by gophers?

Hard to tell, my grown lemon tree of over 5 years (6' tall) fell victim of gopher activities. It was planted on a 4' raised wall and I didn't notice the tunnels until the lemon tree started to wilt. Caught the sucker and now keeping a close eye since for the newly planted Carrie in place.

scottarch

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Re: Gopher Gold
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2018, 11:10:54 PM »
The Gopher hawk

It's expensive but works well for me. Easy to set the trap, no digging. And easy to tell if it's been tripped. Again: no digging.

Oolie

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Re: Gopher Gold
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2018, 01:57:41 AM »
What size tree is no longer threatened by gophers?

The one that can outgrow the gopher's appetite. I know of no tree that can achieve this, but the established orange trees seem to cope well enough, I think their roots are trained very deep.

One of my fig trees has gopher tunnels completely encircling the cage it was buried with, and down to the bottom of the cage which is over two feet deep. Luckily I got the guy today, biggest one of the year, well fattened on fig tree roots. Going to fill in the runs with a dirt/biochar mix.

My White Sapote and Mulberries were both crippled by gophers, and they are about as vigorous as I grow. Better hopes for next year, I'm at 52 now.

The Gopher Hawk looks great, but a bit pricey to keep an arsenal of like I need when it rains. I also don't like how it won't work on terminal tunnels, as I get a significant number of gophers from those.

That said, I see the benefit of a design of its type, but I don't mind digging in the sandy loam. If my soil were harder, and held on to water better (more clayey) I would certainly feel differently.

johnb51

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Re: Gopher Gold
« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2018, 09:19:43 AM »
52 gophers!  I can't even imagine it.  We used to get them randomly when I grew up in South Gate, CA.  Why so many where you live?  Something seems out of whack.  Is it strictly a local problem?
John

hawkfish007

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Re: Gopher Gold
« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2018, 10:50:44 AM »
The Gopher hawk

It's expensive but works well for me. Easy to set the trap, no digging. And easy to tell if it's been tripped. Again: no digging.

Didn't hear about Gopherhawk before, I was using Cinch and Victor easy trap successfully. My area is not that bad, I usually get a gopher or two every 1-2 months, and once caught another one takes over the territory. I will give Gopherhawk a try and use Cinches for end of tunnel.

Oolie

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Re: Gopher Gold
« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2018, 02:25:36 AM »
52 gophers!  I can't even imagine it.  We used to get them randomly when I grew up in South Gate, CA.  Why so many where you live?  Something seems out of whack.  Is it strictly a local problem?

I don't think it is limited to just our property, as I see them all over the place in El Cajon and Bostonia.

They certainly have an advantage in that this property has historically been used for farming and ranching (for much longer than any surrounding properties), the soil improvements sure allow more plants to flourish in the untended areas. Also the soil is a sandy loam, and quite arable. As a result the gophers have no issues tunneling where they want. In addition, all the surrounding properties have been recently developed with all vegetation being removed. There have since been very limited habitat for any natural predators, and ample pest activity (gophers, squirrels, rats).

Does it all add up to these numbers? I'm not sure, maybe someone else has more experience dealing with these threats.

Cythompson159@yahoo.com

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Re: Gopher Gold
« Reply #16 on: Today at 12:13:20 AM »
See the problem is mainly souther California. Maybe build a wall?

spaugh

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Re: Gopher Gold
« Reply #17 on: Today at 12:17:27 AM »
They just make tunnels under it. ;)
Brad Spaugh

 

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