Sage Rat invasion! #319738 - Ask Extension

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Sage Rat invasion! #319738

Asked May 08, 2016, 1:22 PM EDT

We have been on the same EFU 40 acres for 20 years. Soil is sandy loam. We have 26 irrigated acres, watered by pivot, handlines, in ground sprinklers and flood. We have sections of lava flow very high in some parts with rock rising above the soil, other parts are deep sand with rock mixed in.. All of the irrigated ground is horse pasture. We have always had some sage rats, and just controlled them with shooting the few we saw. Last year and this we have been inundated with them. We have gone out and shot as many as 500 in a day, only to shoot 200 more the next, and STILL there are thousands more. They are tearing up the ground and killing large areas of pasture. What options are out there for us? We are on very limited income, and costs of ammunition are killing us!:) Thanks! Darcy

Deschutes County Oregon

Expert Response

The C.O. Rancher should have an add for rodent control - Wade Martin out of Bend who uses a PERQ machine to control pocket Gophers and ground Squirrels.  Cinch Company makes a ground squirrel trap which is a larger version of their gopher trap. Raptor perches can help, but they will not be able to keep up. If your pasture was suitable to flood irrigate once or twice, ground squirrels do not like flood irrigation.  Poison baits baits need to be used in the early spring, prior to the salad bar being available to the ground squirrel. There are "rodenator" machines that apply a mixture of propane and oxygen down their openings and there is a spark plug at the end of the wand that you trigger and blows the run (probably less efficient in sandy soil). Jack Russell Terriers or similar dogs love to harass ground squirrels and the squirrels do not like them. (saw a farm years ago and they had a couple of terriers that seemed to keep the squirrels away).  And of course to keep shooting... If they have done too much damage, then pasture renovation may be required,  It usually takes a number of different methods to control ground squirrels.   You can contact me at 541-447-6228 if you would like to talk some more about your situration.

Mylen Bohle
Area Extension Agronomist
Central Oregon
Crook County Extension Service
Mylen Bohle Replied May 11, 2016, 11:32 AM EDT

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