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Restoring a natural balance (to reduce gophers)

 
Posts: 67
Location: Mille Lacs, MN
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I try and trap as many gophers as is possible, but this still leaves the situation completely out of control.
Thus far I have resorted to raised beds and wire baskets but this is laborious, expensive and very "input" intensive and I want to work toward a better long-term solution.

If gophers are running a muck- then the natural gopher predator population must be too small, right?

Since I am on the edge of a residential area, snakes are generally frowned upon and killed by most residents which is to everyone's disadvantage.

I'd like to try and restore snake habitat and maybe make an owl box or two?

I would think hawks would be great, but I don't really want to encourage them in my yard due to my chickens, ducks, etc.

So, my thoughts up til now is build some gopher snake habitat and some owl boxes....?

Any input on what has worked for you? Owl boxes? Snake habitat? etc?
 
pollinator
Posts: 1539
Location: northern California
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We are out in the country where there are plenty of owls, hawks, coyotes, rattlers, etc. and there are still plenty of gophers and ground squirrels. Natural predators establish a balance with their prey such that the prey numbers are sustainable....in other words, plenty of prey animals....otherwise the predators would starve out. If humans are adding a lot of rodent food to an area, while at the same time reducing the predators, then the rodents are bound to increase.
I grow my root crops in metal raised beds with mesh underneath, otherwise I'd harvest next to nothing. Important permanent plants like expensive nursery fruit trees get planted in chickenwire baskets. I figure by the time the basket rusts the roots will be able to tolerate the disturbance, after all, the wild trees don't seem to be bothered. And in fact they tunnel all up under the summer vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, corn, etc. and don't seem to bother them much either. Our dog and four cats take their share, but three of the cats are old. I imagine a young, half-hungry outdoor cat or a dog of a breed with a taste for rodent would do a lot more.
All that being said, I eat a lot of acorns.....trying to turn the whole question around by learning to eat what grows as contrasted to growing what I've decided I want to eat. And by picking up the acorns in the yard for myself and now for my chickens too, I am reducing the rodent food in the yard....
 
gardener
Posts: 2414
Location: Fraser River Headwaters, Zone3, Lat: 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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Neighbor used to have a gopher problem until they got a spunky young dog. Neighbor was shooting the gophers too. Now all the gophers have escaped to my place, and now I have to deal with them, and I don't have a dog... yet. From this, I would suggest a dog. Snake habitat is generally piles of rocks and logs. They like the cool hiding places and places to burrow under. The like gopher/ground squirrel areas because there is great housing for snakes in the old colonies.
 
steward
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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I've had pretty good luck so far using a victor black box trap and my 10 yr old rottie. I just find a fresh hill which indicates recent activity and let her dig down and find which direction the little porkers are hiding, then I plant the box, and usually within 5 or so hours I have one trapped. Sometimes it takes longer but never more than a day. Either ones trapped or they filled it with dirt and get to live just a little bit longer. If you don't have a dog use two traps, find fresh hill dig down and plant one trap on each hole since you won't really know which direction the gopher is.
 
a wee bit from the empire
Wild Homesteading - Work with nature to grow food and start/build your homestead
https://permies.com/t/96779/Wild-Homesteading-Work-nature-grow
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