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columbian ground squirrels

 
Rick Freeman
Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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I'm working on a site roughly square with 6,400 sq. ft. surrounded by deer fence. I'm having problems with Columbian ground squirrels. So far the best solutions seems to be an integrated approach using traps, Sepp's bone sauce spread on the lower cross-boards on the fence, distraction plants (roots, sunchokes) and a .22 cal rifle with sight. Can anyone make further suggestions that might help me? Thanks. BTW, C. ground squirrels are VERY grateful to me for building them hugelculture beds and stocking them with shrubs.
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3356
Location: woodland, washington
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dog? I like dogs, but not enough to keep one around. hard to argue with their taste for squirrels, though.

you could also take up falconry.
 
Rick Freeman
Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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Tel, we do have a rather enthusiastic dog around, but he's not very effective. Falcons could be fun.... or ferrets, I suppose.... but, I think said dog would eliminate ferrets... and falcons seem so logistically tricky. I'm thinking drones? I hear you can buy them cheap nowadays...
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1401
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Snakes
When mine went away I was over run with voles. Now the snakes are back and I had a small harvest of potatoes - they ate half and I got half - that is better than last year when they ate them all. I also now have some areas in my yard that DON'T look like they been hit by cluster bombs.

I'm glad to have my snakes back even if they did get a few turkey eggs.
 
Rick Freeman
Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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Not too many snakes around.... too cold and snowy for most of them... though we have rattlers and bulls at lower, warmer elevations.
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3356
Location: woodland, washington
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the drones sound good. pretty creepy, though.

I've heard that adding perches for birds of prey can help. I can't imagine it would completely solve the problem. a snag would work, or a tall post.
 
Kari Gunnlaugsson
pollinator
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I have Richardson's ground squirrels. I'm not sure how similar the biology is. One strategy here is to really focus control efforts on those first spring days when they are up, with the snow still around. As I recall it is only the males up at that point and if you can hit hard then and skew the sex ratio it dramatically reduces that season's reproduction. I'm not that big on killing stuff, so I'd rather take out a few early on than a zillion later in the summer.

There is a new style trap I've found that blocks off the hole entrance and looks an awful lot like a guillotine...I've been happy with them, they seem very humane and very lethal.

Badgers can really knock back a population, but they leave a lot of dangerous holes to fill in. I like to see them around though. One came through last night and tore up the pasture like crazy.

There is a certain type of guy that gets off on killing stuff or shooting or something... i don't understand them, but they are often more than happy to show up for an afternoon of 'gopher hunting'...they even post wanted ads in the classifieds up here...I wouldn't have them on the place, but i guess it would be an option. Do you ever worry about all the leaad?

( hunting with hawks and falcons is a real thrill (yes, double standard), but taking care of the bird is a crazy full time commitment...i worked for a bit as a falconer and would love to continue as a hobby, but it's just too much...)
 
Rick Freeman
Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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I'm divided on the eradication issue, to be sure. However, some of these suggestions on limited, focused killing make some sense (early males, traps, etc.). Since the surrounding country is pretty wild (high valley in Montana), we do have our predators and plenty of perch trees (just saw a red tail the other day, so badgers around, coyotes, etc.). As far as shooting, I would definitely use steel shot (shotgun) to avoid the lead problem (which also poisons whatever eats the dead critters).

I'm thinking about burying deep wire and seeing if that helps. Get out the excavator! And, yes, drones are creepy at best.
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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get a can of mint hornet spray, hit some cotton balls, drop in burrows.

work your way back to perimeter. works on gophers.

make sure to get the spray of pure mint!

small terrier dogs. snakes. If they are all in one burrow, you can hook up the car exhaust to the shop vac hose, and run it for a half hour.
carbon, ya know.
 
Kari Gunnlaugsson
pollinator
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I was just thinking about how expensive it could get using steel shot shotgun shells....But Google says we can now get Lead Free small calibre rifle ammo...hooray! Probably the ballistics are terrible, but who cares, it doesn't take much....I hope I can find non lead 22 where I live...

arizona fish and game article on non lead ammo..

This just became my best solution...
 
Rick Freeman
Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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The mint attracts and the spray kills? How does this work?

Morgan Morrigan wrote:get a can of mint hornet spray, hit some cotton balls, drop in burrows.


 
Rick Freeman
Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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Hmm. I need to check this out too
Kari Gunnlaugsson wrote: Lead Free small calibre rifle ammo...
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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they don't like mint. guess they know the roots are a pain to deal with if you aren't going to eat em.

The hornet spray is pure mint oil, not a poison for anything but insects.
 
Rick Freeman
Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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Huh. That's interesting. Thanks Morgan! I'll give it a try.

Morgan Morrigan wrote:they don't like mint. guess they know the roots are a pain to deal with if you aren't going to eat em.

The hornet spray is pure mint oil, not a poison for anything but insects.
 
Maggie Oliver
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I have found that a small pack of dachshunds is quite the answer to rodents. Maybe invite some of the local "dirt dog" club out for some sport.
I know it isn't the answer for some, but they are designed to get vermin.
Fair warning...a doxie on trail can sound like someone is killing it.
 
Rick Freeman
Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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Thank you Maggie. That's an interesting idea. Hmm. I wonder how beagles would do.
 
Maggie Oliver
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I don't know Rick... but it could be fun to see. Dogs so rarely get the chance to give into their nature these days.
 
Brandon Karhu
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Sounds like a resource to me. squirrels could be a good source of food if things got tight. I don't mind having them in my garden. They spread seeds.
 
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