It’s that time of the season again, when it appears that there are little volcanoes exploding in the turf in the Tulsa and OKC areas. These little cone-shaped piles of dirt about 6” high in lawns are actually signs of pocket gophers in most cases. The dirt is from the excavation of their tunnels, which are generally about 4”-18” below the surface, covering up to an acre for just one gopher. Gophers are rodents, which have strong front claws for digging, causing much damage to home lawns and landscapes in spring and fall especially it seems.
They can sometimes be confused with moles, which are smaller and make tunnels right on the surface. Gophers are herbivores, feeding mainly on plant roots and bulbs. Moles feed mainly on soil insects and earthworms. Both can cause extensive damage to lawns, making it difficult to mow with unsightly mounds of dirt everywhere. And gophers can actually damage landscape plants, flowers, and trees by eating roots.
There are various types of control for gophers, many of which either don’t work at all or are very inconsistent. They are subject to natural predators such as hawks, but those are not found too often in the urban environment. We’ve found that trapping the gopher is the best way to effectively control them. I’ve spoken with several homeowners who’ve had success with their self-trapping methods, assuming they have the time to do so. It does take some knowledge and experience though.
In the Tulsa area, we have two professional trappers that we recommend to trap both gophers and moles, or both in some cases. They have a base charge plus charge per critter that they trap. It could be just one gopher, or could be several of them plus even moles mixed into the situation. Their contact information can be found on our website at: http://www.okrangelandswest.okstate.edu/files/wildlife%20pdfs/NREM-9001.pdf
For information on trapping them yourself, Oklahoma State University has a good information sheet at: http://www.lawnamerica.com/client-corner/preferred-providers.php