Calgary’s long winter is over and many people are enjoying the sunshine but there are some unwelcome residents among many gardens too.
Gophers or Richardson’s ground squirrels may look cute to the casual observer but experts in the pest control field say the rodents are a big nuisance.
“They do a lot of damage by tunneling. They go about one metre deep and just do a lot of destruction when they burrow,” says Conrad Mueller, president of Absolute Pest Control.
Richardson's ground squirrels are native to North America and are a constant problem for homeowners in the City of Calgary.
Gophers can cause a huge amount of damage to property when they burrow.
Bait stations, that help trap rodents without harming them, are an option for homeowners and pest control agencies.
He says gophers and ground squirrels are native to North America and have about five to eight young every year.
He adds the spring is usually when rodent activity starts to pick up in the City of Calgary.
“They hibernate over the winter, so as soon as the ice leaves the hole open, then the male ground squirrel will come out initially, about 10 or 14 days before the female comes out. Pretty soon after that they mate and after that there’s a whole bunch running around.”
The main issue occurs when there is a large empty area near your home and the animals invade from there.
“The best thing is to set up a bait station on your property line that will prevent the gophers from moving onto your property.”
While homeowners can trap and relocate the animals themselves, Mueller says the best way to stop an infestation is to call in a professional.
The city is in charge of controlling pests in city parks and officials tell CTV News they’ve been hard at work controlling not only ground squirrels but mosquitoes and vegetative pests since April.
But that doesn’t mean the city is leaving homeowners to fend for themselves.
“The city would cover, depending on the numbers on the site, any gophers on our property and we would work with the homeowner to come up with a solution to control both,” said Lincoln Julie, integrated pest management lead with Calgary Parks.
Julie says the city uses a number of different options to control the pests including bait stations, gas bombs, CO2 emitters as well as natural barriers such as perimeter fencing.
Experts say the rodents remain active until about mid-August.
(With files from Teri Fikowski)