The Richardson Ground Squirrel also known as 'the Gopher' are very common in Airdrie. The City has a zero tolerance level for gophers on sports fields as they create tripping hazards. The Parks department regularly monitors them for gopher activity.
Sports fields take priority for the gopher control program followed by other general parks spaces.
The Northern Pocket Gopher may leave small mounds of loam in your yard with no visible entrance to a burrow system. Quite often you can find the entrance to the burrow system using a probe. Trapping is the most effective method of controlling these critters.
Voles or Field Mice are a compact, stocky rodent with short legs and short tail and may be 14 to 19cm, quite often with grey fur. Voles eat a variety of plants, mostly grasses as well as eating the bark around the base of smaller trees. Voles can be found in all areas of the city, but are most commonly found in areas bordering open spaces and fields.
Voles leave trail systems throughout homeowners lawns and gardens, which are noticeable in the spring time when the snow has melted. Large population fluctuations are characteristic of voles. After a winter with a large snow accumulation, there is often a higher vole population in the spring.
Because the meadow vole is native to the area and plays an important role in the ecology as a primary food source for raptors and carnivorous mammals, the Parks department does not conduct vole control. However, Parks does mow where natural areas with tall grass border residential fence lines to keep the grass down and help prevent voles from entering residential yards.
Residents can help prevent vole damage in their yard by:
- Eliminating yard waste such as leaves, grass clipping piles, wood piles.
- Keeping your grass maintained and mowed.
- Keeping bird feed off the ground as this may attract voles.
- Keep a two metre area around the trunk of trees clear of other plants that create cover for vole.
- Do not pile snow on young trees or shrubs.
- Wrap the trunk of small trees with ¼” wire mesh. This must be dug into the ground and extend higher than the expected snow line.
To control voles and clean up vole damage:
- Voles often retreat back into taller grasses when the snow melts in the spring. However, if you have voles living in your back yard, trapping may be effective for controlling a small population. Use a mouse snap trap set perpendicular to the runway, a few inches away from the burrow entrance.
- Rake and then fertilize affected grass and it will quite often rejuvenate in the spring.
- Local hardware stores may supply products for control. Follow all label instructions when choosing to use pest control products.
- When cleaning up droppings or handling any rodent, it is important to wear personal protection such as gloves and a dust mask.