Ground Squirrel Control Without Poison
I have spent a lot of time working with the California Ground Squirrel. This animal can be a great nuisance in any situation where the squirrels and people try to co-exist. There are some problems with digging under structures, digging large burrows that stock animals and children can trip in. But the major problem is the fact that they are community animals and therefore are vectors for diseases. Two in particular rabies and Bubonic Plague (there was a case of plague last year in Monterey County). This is mostly due to fleas. Animals that share burrows almost always have fleas. When it comes to school grounds and public areas the squirrels cannot be tolerated. In agriculture I have seen ground squirrels steal corn crops, nuts and damage many other crops. If you have them, you will need to eventually find a way to control populations or eliminate them as much as possible and keep breeding populations extremely low.
I have tried many traps, lethal and live and finally found a trap that works well enough to really help solve the problem with spending a lot of time at the job. This technique can be very useful for public areas and schools because the trap is used for a very short time after a period of pre baiting.
Instructions for the Black Fox repeating Ground Squirrel Trap
This trap is great for Ground Squirrels and Prairie Dogs. The action that is different from other live traps is that the Black Fox trap takes advantage of the social nature of these rodent species. Ground squirrels and Prairie dogs are always curious about new things in the environment and will avoid them until they are comfortable. These animals work as a social group. You will see one or two always watching and warning the colony of impending danger. They are always aware of what the other animals in the colony are doing. Because of this behavior the area where trapping is to be done needs to be pre baited and the trap needs to be locked closed during this period and present near the pre baiting area. I advise trappers to put bait out for 5-7 days and see when the animals are readily feeding and eating all the bait every day. You want to create a feeding frenzy, not adding too much food but enough so that you draw a crowd. The object is to catch most or the entire colony in one trapping session. On the seventh morning, if the animals are feeding readily, place the trap right on the bait pile and put some bait inside as well as scatter a small amount by the door openings. Try to be sure the trap is flat on the ground and if possible settle the trap so some soil covers the bottom wire of the trap. Open the two door covers and you are set. Try to get back to the trap by noon or so and you should have a good catch by then. If you don’t check on the trap in a few hours the animals will probably not survive in the trap. When you have a catch then you need to do something to the animals. Some farmers and ranchers drown them and others use a euthanization chamber . You can make this out of plywood or use any plastic container the trap will fit in. Here is a photo of one that works well. CO2 is the preferred gas but sometimes in the field auto exhaust is an OK substitute. This box has one side that opens to slide the trap in and hole the size of a shop vac hose to connect to exhaust pipe. 5-7 minutes are usually enough, adding a Plexiglas window would be helpful.
Baits: red oats, bird food, dog food, chicken, french fries, apples, cabbage and greens, corn – you may have to experiment to find the right bait.