Marmot Infestation

  
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RockWrangler

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It is interesting to see the varied replies to this post. It looks like every area has its own varmint problem. On the west side of WA State, it was mostly moles, voles, rats, and occasional beavers damming up the creek. My Anatolian Shepherds took care of the voles and rats, and I trapped the moles. The beavers were a whole other story.

I’m not sure there is a solution to this problem. The marmots probably can reproduce faster than I can trap them, so my new idle time filler may be marmot trapping. Since their fleas can be a source of bubonic plague, I handle them as little as possible, which means eating or skinning them is out. The website selling marmot skins for $131 each does make me pause and consider. Hmmm, $131 X 78 (as of this moment) = $10,218. Figure maybe 25% from the merchant: that is almost $2500. I’m still going to pass on that option though.

To give you an idea of the number of marmots on my little plot of ground, I have trapped an additional four just since I started writing this post. My wife now considers our trips to the nature preserve as a kind of “date.”

Jstpssng asked whether I could be relocating the same animals over and over. I suppose it is possible, but the preserve is 2-3 miles away, across three roads, maybe 2,000 feet lower elevation, and up at least two basalt cliffs. I don’t underestimate the possibility, but don’t think so.

Several of you mentioned problems with pocket gophers. That is another issue I have to deal with. My barnyard and pasture are riddled with gopher hills and tunnels. I have a box of new gopher traps setting in the shop, waiting to be deployed. This is a new subject for me, so I am learning as I go. Last summer, our first year of gardening at this place, the gophers absolutely wrecked my garden. I hope to get ahead of them this year. We’ll see …

I haven’t mentioned the chicken hawks (Cooper’s Hawk), have I? Since raptors are federally protected, I can’t shoot them. Although when I caught one tearing the head off one of my chickens, I was tempted. What I did, instead, was cover the chicken yard with netting. The smaller birds can still get in to steal the chicken scratch, but so far it has stopped further hawk predation.

There are always a couple of red-tailed hawks that show up when I mow the back pasture, ready to feed on the newly-exposed rodents. They rarely go away hungry. Oftentimes they will miss their target, so will set still a minute, waiting for the critter to move. I usually stop the tractor, sometimes only a few feet away, and watch. I told my wife they look for all the world like feathered cats.

There is also a pair of Golden Eagles that love soaring on the thermals moving up the cliffs. When they get bored or tired they land in a tall pine at the back of my pasture and survey their domain. We got to watch last year as they made some new Golden Eagles.
 

ponytug

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FWIW: I find the "Gophinator" stainless traps to be easy to use and quite effective. I have the best success digging down the side tunnels to the main tunnel, placing a trap each direction and covering the hole up with something air and light tight.

At the end of the day, for important plants I found that the use of hardware cloth lined baskets surrounding the plant completely underground is essential.

I only use the traps in the orchard to keep the infestation down to a dull roar.

All the best,

Peter
 
  
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RockWrangler

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Welcome to TBN and the forum. I live about 25 miles SW of Spokane. Right in the heart of the Scablands. I have pocket gophers. I use wire spring traps on my "trap line". Last year my barn cat got eaten by something further up the food chain - coyote or owl.

The cat was fantastic on mice - not so much on pocket gophers. He tried but very limited success.

FORGET live trapping. Takes too much time. Use traps that kill them. Set the little bodies out on an open section of exposed land. Something further up the food chain will take care of them - coyotes, hawks or owls.

Resign yourself to this - you will NEVER eliminate them. You just might reduce their numbers to an acceptable level.

Welcome to the Scablands of Ea WA state and all its various residents. I've been out here for 40 years now.
 
  
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RockWrangler

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Amber, WA! We looked at a place on the lake before we bought our current home. That is a beautiful location.
 

the old grind

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What Oosik said about acceptable levels and what OP said about a new pastime. (y) btw, in NYC they've been using dry ice for some time to reduce rats in specific locations. I wonder if Chi-Town won't try it too somewhere. It pretty much does what 'Giant Killer' etc smoke bombs do but just suffocates vs w/poison.

IMO dogs and trapping are #s 1 & 2 to deter/reduce populations of most anything from rat's to groundhogs. Look here if you're good with dogs. (We've just heard there are a lot of good ones among us.)
 
  
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RockWrangler

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Some of you mentioned dogs to help with the marmot problem. That was one of my first thoughts when I realized just how many of these critters there are. Then I talked with my neighbors up the road who have several dogs always on the prowl. They told me tales of torn up dogs and vet trips resulting from dog-marmot encounters. While the right dogs ultimately may win, those razor sharp rodent teeth can rip and tear.

We had Anatolian Shepherds when we lived on the west side of WA State, and they were instant death to anything that got into their barnyard. We always had a few steers, goats, sheep, chickens and turkeys for the dogs to guard, and they took their jobs very seriously. As rough as they could be with interlopers, they treated the baby goats and lambs with almost parental gentleness. But any stray dogs, cats, coyotes, raccoons, or possums that made their way through the fence were quickly dealt with. We were left to dispose of whatever carcass they didn’t want to eat.

We would probably have an Anatolian or two already, but they are serious dogs that need a job to keep them occupied. If they don’t have something to guard, they tend to expand their territory—and people don’t like it when their property is taken over by a neighbor’s dog. The secret to keeping them home is to give them a job. No job equals boredom, and boredom equals trouble.

We had a 130 pound female that could go over our 5-foot chain link fence like a gazelle, if she was unoccupied. We lost her to shoulder cancer a few months before we moved, then a few months later lost her 166 pound boyfriend to old age (16 yo). We really miss the old boy. He was a legend in the family.

We are still settling in to the current place, and haven’t decided whether we will be getting any animals other than chickens, so getting a dog is on hold. Plus we want to wander the country a bit, and Anatolians are not dogs you can put in the care of a dog sitter for a week or two. We haven’t really considered any other breed of dog to this point. Sometimes a plain old mutt can be the best choice.

Anyway, I do appreciate all of your comments and suggestions. It is interesting to hear from people from Maine all the way across country to California. It reminds me anew, in spite of all the turmoil in the news, we have more in common than the opinion leaders would have you believe.
 

ponytug

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Thanks for sharing your stories about your Anatolian shepherds. They seem like amazing animals. Our German shepherds have been a great asset around and with our herd, and definitely need a job.

Just for something different: hunting rabbits with ferrets.

All the best,

Peter
 

check

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It is interesting to see the varied replies to this post. It looks like every area has its own varmint problem. On the west side of WA State, it was mostly moles, voles, rats, and occasional beavers damming up the creek. My Anatolian Shepherds took care of the voles and rats, and I trapped the moles. The beavers were a whole other story.

I’m not sure there is a solution to this problem. The marmots probably can reproduce faster than I can trap them, so my new idle time filler may be marmot trapping. Since their fleas can be a source of bubonic plague, I handle them as little as possible, which means eating or skinning them is out. The website selling marmot skins for $131 each does make me pause and consider. Hmmm, $131 X 78 (as of this moment) = $10,218. Figure maybe 25% from the merchant: that is almost $2500. I’m still going to pass on that option though.

To give you an idea of the number of marmots on my little plot of ground, I have trapped an additional four just since I started writing this post. My wife now considers our trips to the nature preserve as a kind of “date.”

Jstpssng asked whether I could be relocating the same animals over and over. I suppose it is possible, but the preserve is 2-3 miles away, across three roads, maybe 2,000 feet lower elevation, and up at least two basalt cliffs. I don’t underestimate the possibility, but don’t think so.

Several of you mentioned problems with pocket gophers. That is another issue I have to deal with. My barnyard and pasture are riddled with gopher hills and tunnels. I have a box of new gopher traps setting in the shop, waiting to be deployed. This is a new subject for me, so I am learning as I go. Last summer, our first year of gardening at this place, the gophers absolutely wrecked my garden. I hope to get ahead of them this year. We’ll see …

I haven’t mentioned the chicken hawks (Cooper’s Hawk), have I? Since raptors are federally protected, I can’t shoot them. Although when I caught one tearing the head off one of my chickens, I was tempted. What I did, instead, was cover the chicken yard with netting. The smaller birds can still get in to steal the chicken scratch, but so far it has stopped further hawk predation.

There are always a couple of red-tailed hawks that show up when I mow the back pasture, ready to feed on the newly-exposed rodents. They rarely go away hungry. Oftentimes they will miss their target, so will set still a minute, waiting for the critter to move. I usually stop the tractor, sometimes only a few feet away, and watch. I told my wife they look for all the world like feathered cats.

There is also a pair of Golden Eagles that love soaring on the thermals moving up the cliffs. When they get bored or tired they land in a tall pine at the back of my pasture and survey their domain. We got to watch last year as they made some new Golden Eagles.

If you want to know whether the same animals or just coming back, paint them. That is what my neighbor did with the raccoons he kept catching.
 
 
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