Mammoth gopher defeated

For the last 6 weeks, nearly every morning has started out with an optimistic Lee running out to the garden to check his traps. Soon he would come trudging back in defeat, having found only empty traps, fresh dirt mounds, and the garden air heavy with the scent of shredded onions. It was becoming quite comical.

Each night Lee would think of some new trick to setting the traps or covering the holes. We had some serious Swiss Family Robinson traps by the end. The final trap consisted of a hole dug 18″ down to the main tunnel, a box trap (thanks John) facing one way and a cinch trap the other. A plastic bucket lid fitted over the traps and dirt was piled on top of the lid so moisture and light conditions would stay the same.

The big cinch trap was the one that got him. It wasn’t a clean kill as the gopher was so large the trap was basically just hugging him. Lee had to dispatch it.

Here is our onion and leek patch at the moment. The gopher ate almost half the onions. Some of remaining onions will not bulb well because of constant tunneling through their root zone. Thankfully it didn’t like leeks (or it was waiting for them to get bigger).

Onion rows and leek row

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7 Responses to Mammoth gopher defeated

  1. Jennifer says:

    I imagine you’re dancing for joy that the gopher is gone! Btw, I’M also joyful to have so many new posts to read! Thank you for sharing.

    • robin says:

      Yup, we were happy! I told Lee that I was going to refuse to plant garlic this fall if he hadn’t caught it by then. I didn’t want to go through all the work just to have it eaten by the jumbo pest.

      Thanks for the kind words, I’ve been trying out short posts lately as long ones seem overwhelming. Sidney is a pretty easy baby but I still feel beat at the end of the day. So far it’s been working out good and I like it.

  2. John says:

    Congratulations, Lee! FWIW, your post sheds some light on a possible reason why you may be having difficulty with your traps – my understanding is that light is required, at least for the box trap. The little hole at the end should never be covered. The gopher gets trapped when it tries to block off the light. Might be worth a try leaving them uncovered next time..

    • lee says:

      Hmm, I interpreted the black box instructions as if the hole at the end was for air movement. I would expect that a tunnel which is sealed off has different air movement than one with at least one hole. People describe putting the boxes back to back in a tunnel, presumably with the holes lined up. I first set the black box on a surface tunnel so light was visible through the hole, and the gopher sealed the tunnel a few inches back from the trap.

      I’ve read quite a bit about trapping gophers lately, and some tests claim that covering traps (such as cinch traps) makes no difference as far as the catch rate, but I don’t believe that in my own experience. Setting a cinch trap on a surface tunnel (such as some of the product instructions suggest) absolutely never works, as the gopher sees the trip wire and plugs the hole.

      I’ve been the most successful when I set traps in a mainline tunnel underground and then absolutely seal them off from air and light with dirt. The 5 gallon bucket lid worked great for this. I’m going to get a few more. Previously I had been using a few cedar shingles or bits of cardboard, but these always leak light and the more clever gophers get suspicious.

  3. John says:

    One more note regarding the box trap: all the other holes at the top need to be covered, just the hole at the end open. Then it works just about every time (for me, at least).

    • lee says:

      I noticed this in the instructions too, but I wasn’t sure how they wanted them covered. Too much dirt and it might affect the mechanism, and our sandy soil can pour through holes endlessly. For the first try I used some dried Brassica leaves. On the second try, I settled for just sealing off everything with the lid a few inches up.

      • John says:

        That sandy soil does sound problematical. I have a sandy loam soil and find that it pours through the holes to some degree. Experience has taught me that if the trap isn’t well sealed to the tunnel, and the holes on top not well covered, that the gopher will plug the trap with dirt and not get caught. Not sure if this is from light or air movement (hadn’t thought about that aspect). I did find that using a fairly large amount of well-crumbled soil will eventually cover things up. It seems as though the soil that falls through the holes, and the soil piled on top of things, doesn’t affect the workings of the trap. Certainly worth a controlled experiment on your part. Maybe lightly moistening your soil first might help with the pour-through problem.

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