“Red Phone, we live in the county and we’re having a bigger problem than normal with ground squirrels. They are undermining our barn and there just seems to be more than ever. Also, we’re concerned because they carry diseases. We tried shooting them, we tried trapping them, but they are just everywhere and we’re running out of ideas. Surely, we can’t be the only ones. Help!”
Dear Overwhelmed, you are correct in that you are not the only ones. Red Phone gets a call like this every year, and you’re the second this year. Red Phone contacted Associate Wildlife Biologist Conrad Jones, with the Department of Fish and Game. He said ground squirrels can be a sticky problem.
The Department’s preferred method to control squirrels is either shooting or trapping or a combination of both.
“It wasn’t clear what types of traps your reader had used but it is possible a different type might prove successful,” Jones said.
Recent information suggests that poisoning of non-target species has become a significant issue in California.
“Birds of prey and mammalian predators appear to be particularly susceptible and have suffered secondary poisoning by consuming their natural prey which has been tainted,” Jones said.
“The biggest issue at hand is the potential presence of kit foxes and/or burrowing owls on or near your reader’s property.
For this reason, but also because of their expertise in contending with ground squirrels, your reader should contact their local county agricultural commissioner’s office for information,” he said. The commissioner’s number in Morgan Hill is (408) 465-2900.
The following link to the UC Davis Pest notes provides a pretty thorough discussion of ground squirrels, their biology, legal status and control measures, go to this link.