Gophers (Richardson's ground squirrel)
The Richardson's Ground Squirrel, commonly called the gopher, prairie gopher, yellow gopher, flickertail or picket pin, is a burrowing rodent that dwell in colonies on pastures, cropland and parkland regions around Calgary and throughout Alberta.
Preventing gophers in your yard
Ground squirrels are visually-oriented animals, and they have a strong need to keep their burrow entrances in sight at all times. Therefore, dense shrubs like junipers are a large deterrent for gophers.
Vinyl barriers and fencing also contain gophers by obstructing their line of sight. If ground squirrels cannot see beyond the barrier they will not pass through it. Vinyl is only effective temporarily, so it should be used in conjunction with a more permanent vegetative barrier. The vinyl barrier must be stabilized in the ground, able to withstand severe weather conditions, and installed ahead of the ground squirrel colony expansion.
Wood slatted privacy fencing that is at least three feet high can be installed as a visual barrier between a gopher colony and an adjacent development. Lawn-edging strips should be secured along the bottom of the fence. The strips should be wide enough to extend up onto the bottom of the fencing to prevent any light penetration. On the ground squirrel side of the barrier, poultry wire mesh covered with grass seeds will help detract both gophers and weeds.
To report a gopher problem in a City park, call 3-1-1 or 403-268-CITY(2489) if calling from outside Calgary, or email The City of Calgary.
Why are gophers a problem?
Gophers are a problem because of the damage that can be caused by their burrowing habit. Gophers will set up burrows alongside roadways, on residential properties, sports fields, golf courses and in cemeteries. Both the holes and the dirt mounds can cause damage to mowing and other grounds maintenance equipment. Also stepping into a gopher hole can cause serious injuries to people and pets, which is why The City considers the gopher a pest. Typically control action is only undertaken in areas where there is a high probability of negative interaction with the public or maintenance equipment. No action is taken in Natural area parks.