Controlling Gophers

Try our Interactive Wildlife Advisor for advice on gopher control tailored to your situation.

Gophers are common animals in backyards, and unfortunately can cause a lot of damage to plants and hardscape elements.  There is no easy way to humanely and effectively solve a gopher problem, but there are actions you can take to make your gopher management plan as ethical, sustainable, and humane as possible.  Here are some recommendations:

1.  Try nonlethal control first.  If gophers have just showed up in your yard recently, you may be able to get rid of them with repellent products such as coyote urine.  However, if you try this and the gopher stays in your yard for more than a couple weeks, you need to use lethal control.

2.  Get rid of the gophers before they reproduce.  Don't put off controlling the problem because you expect the gophers to go away on their own.  They won't.  It's more humane to kill the first gophers you see than to end up having to kill dozens of gophers when the original ones reproduce.

3.  Don't call the exterminator.  If you trap the gophers yourself, you have much more control over the methods you use.  For example, you can use less inhumane traps, check them more often, and give the dead gophers back to the environment by burying them.  If you do use an extermination service, ask about their methods.

 

4.  Just say no to chemicals.  Rodenticides, and homemade control methods involving chemicals or toxic fumes, are harmful to not only the gopher but many other organisms, including people, pets, and rodent predators like owls.  Don't use them.

 

5.  Choose the right traps.  Use traps designed for killing the gopher quickly.  "The Gophinator" is a trap available online that is similar to a snap trap for mice. (The Skunk Corner is not affiliated with, and does not intend to endorse, the manufacturer or seller of the trap.). Don't attempt to use livetraps for gophers.  They don't tend to work, and even if you were to catch a gopher, relocating it to an unfamiliar environment would be inhumane and probably result in its death.

 

6.  Protect your plants.  Killing the gophers in your yard is not a long term solution, as more will continue to move in.  If you are concerned about specific areas of your yard being damaged by gophers, such as a vegetable or flower garden, it is important to gopher-proof those areas as part of your solution to the problem.  

How do I use a gopher trap?

The trap should be placed in an active hole.  These holes will usually have mounds of fresh soil next to them, and the hole will sometimes be open.  Don't place a trap in a hole you know is old- it won't catch anything.  Follow the manufacturer's instructions for setting the trap.  Cover the hole with a brick, a piece of wood, or another flat object to prevent injuries to people or nontarget animals.  The gopher will be caught when it comes back to fill the hole.