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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Pocket gopher problems and control practices on national forest lands in the Pacific Northwest region


A survey of animal-reforestation problems by the Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station and the Forest Service placed pocket gophers high on the list of problem animals on National Forest lands in Oregon and Washington. Gophers ranked equally with porcupines as second to deer in importance. Lack of basic information on pocket gopher ecology and damage control is preventing prompt reforestation on large acreages. Most control methods are effective in limited situations, but the only technique proven useful over a wide range of conditions is baiting with rodenticides. Hand baiting and mechanical baiting using the burrow-builder machine are described and were evaluated in recent forestry applications; costs and efficacy achieved are reported. Some apparent areas of forest-gopher ecology needing study are: population dynamics, movement patterns, seasonal activity, food habits, habitat preferences, and effects of forest management programs on populations. As basic facts become available, it will be possible to integrate habitat modification, silvicultural practices, and direct control to provide necessary conifer protection. If research productivity lags, we will continue on a hit and miss basis and much needed timber production will be lost.

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