Q: Any helpful tips on gopher infestations? I have tried the poison oats, but they will not eat it. Help!!! any tips would be appreciated. Oh yeah, I tried drowning them out too... ran the water for one whole day and it never did come up out of the ground anywhere. P.F. Nebraska

Gophers are definitely a tough customer to control. They also can do considerable damage as you're probably already aware. They are strictly vegetarians and most of their tunnels are about 12-18" below the surface, however, they do have much deeper tunnels that can go down 5' or so. Living in Nebraska, you probably don't have access to a few good rattlesnakes, which love gophers and will go underground in pursuit of them. Owls are also good predators. There are some home remedies that have questionable results. One is planting caster bean plants that is supposed to drive them away-I have my doubts though. All of those so-called remedies like the vibrating windmill and ultrasonic devices don't work either. Gophers don't frighten easily. Just imagine how much vibration and noise a lawn mower causes going overhead every week.

Flooding the tunnels doesn't work as you also know--they are good swimmers and can easily plug a tunnel up anywhere along its length when the water starts getting too deep. They do the same when trying to gas them. Poison is an alternative, but not recommended. Before they succumb to the poison, they'll often emerge from the tunnel and die topside. Their carcass could then be consumed by a favorite pet and which would then poison them as well. The best remedy is traps. If you're not too squeamish, the lethal variety, if done properly, will do the job. It may take several tries getting it set just right to nab them. Even though they are usually solitary critters, during the spring, they are usually in an amorous mood and will probably have a mate or two holed up with them so you'll have to keep putting traps in at several tunnel openings.

Find the main tunnel by locating a fresh opening and then determine it's direction by running a rod (or buy a gopher probe--really!) into the ground in a circle. You'll notice a give in the pressure when you hit it. The main tunnel runs underground for a considerable distance. They will then dig up to the surface in various places and these are the mounds you see in your yard. You want to find the main tunnel, not the lateral access tubes.

Once you find the main tunnel, dig a hole that intercepts this tunnel. Set 2 traps, one on each side of the exposed openings so you'll be catching them either coming or going. Normally, you don't have to bait the traps, but some folks claim this helps. If you opt for this you might consider using lettuce, carrots, or slices of apple. Tie a wire to the trap so you can easily remove it. Once the traps are properly set, place some cardboard over the hole you dug and cover with soil so no light enters the hole. If you don't catch one in 3 days, you've got a dead-end tunnel and will need to relocate it and try again.

Once you get the problem under control, be prepared for a re-infestation, especially if you live in an area bordering a vacant lot, or wild lands You might get rid of the ones in your yard, but as soon as that tunnel becomes vacant, another opportunistic critter will take advantage of the already excavated new digs.