The Q&A Archives: Ground squirrels

Question: How do we rid our hillside of their holes. They are undermining the hill.

Answer: In California, trapping is the only legal way to rid your property of ground squirrels. According to the University of California Pest Management Program, "live-catch traps are not recommended because they present the problem of how to dispose of the live animals. Because ground squirrels carry diseases and are agricultural pests, the California Fish and Game Code specifies that it is illegal to release them elsewhere without a written permit."

"There are several types of traps that kill ground squirrels, including box traps, Conibear traps, and tunnel traps. Box traps should be placed on the ground near squirrel burrows or runways. Bait these traps with walnuts, almonds, oats, barley, or melon rinds. Place the bait well behind the trigger or tied to it. Bait the traps but do not set them for several days so the squirrels become accustomed to them. After the squirrels are used to taking the bait, rebait and set the traps."

"To reduce hazards to children, pets, poultry, and nontarget wildlife, place box-type traps in a covered box with a 3-inch diameter entrance. Put the box near active burrows with signs of recent diggings. Inactive burrows will be filled with leaves, old straw, or have cobwebs across the entrance."

"Inspect traps at least once a day and remove dead squirrels. Do not handle the carcasses without protective gear. Use a plastic bag slipped over each hand and arm as a glove. Once the squirrel is removed from the trap, hold the animal with one hand and turn the bag inside out while slipping it off your arm and hand. If possible, keep small children and pets out of the area while traps are in use. In kit fox areas, spring all Conibear traps before nightfall and reset them the following morning."

With this said, I think I would just leave the ground squirrels alone! Best wishes with your landscape!

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