Gophers Got You Down?

Mark Dotson

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The gopher can be a tenacious little devil. It can ruin your lawn and eat your garden, shrubs and other vegetation in short order.

Many times gopher damage and mole damage look similar.

The key to telling the difference in damage is when you see your plants dying. Moles do not commonly eat vegetation. If you notice plants turning brown or yellow and there is tunneling around them, it most likely is a gopher doing the damage.

Although these animals are similar, they are quite different in their choice of food sources.

Moles prefer to eat earthworms and insects. Gophers on the other hand are root eaters and will chew off the roots of shrubs, bulbs and small trees.

Now that you have determined which animal you are dealing with, a control program can be developed. Gophers and moles are controlled in much the same way by trapping them.

To trap a gopher, a slightly different trap than you would use for moles is needed. This trap goes inside the gopher tunnel instead of above the tunnel. Gophers do not travel near the surface as often as the mole does, so the trap must be placed inside the tunnel to be most effective.

A very good trap has been on the market for considerable time. This trap is called a Macabee and is the most reliable one on the market in our opinion. A minimum of two traps should be used.

Dig down until you reach the gopher tunnel and then set your traps. Place one trap in the tunnel with the trip pan away from you. Take the next trap and insert it in the opposite side of the tunnel with the trip pan away from you. What you are trying to achieve is to catch the gopher from either direction it would be traveling.

Check the traps regularly and continue trapping until the damage ceases.

Remember to remove the dirt mounds as they will kill your lawn. Just smooth them out and spread the dirt over the lawn.

Mark Dotson, Wildlife Control Expert and veteran mole control professional. To learn more about mole control, visit More detailed wildlife control information and products for gopher control can be found at


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