Whistle pigs / ground squirrels

We have run the whole gamut of yard pests. We have 20 acres west of the Teton River west of Driggs, ID. Every year we battle pocket gophers. Last year moles and voles were added to the herd. This spring we are infested with chiselers/whistle pigs/ground squirrels. Does their presence effect the presence of the other varmints? Other than large mounds do they do damage? Our yard is full, literally, of holes from the other creatures. How do we control them? I imagine they have litters of young by now.


The animals in question are likely 1) northern pocket gophers, 2) meadow voles, 3) Uinta ground squirrels. All are common in Teton Valley and are important prey species for raptors, badgers, foxes etc.... Northern pocket gophers are burrowing mammals that typically only surface to clip forbs that are pulled down into their elaborate burrow systems for consumption or storage.  Pocket gopher's leave telltale mounds of earth in occupied habitat. They are active throughout the year and evidence of their winter burrowing/foraging is often very obvious after snowmelt.
Meadow voles are likely the most common vole species in Teton Valley. They are active mostly above-ground forming runways of clipped or trampled vegetation. They nest above ground in summer and below ground in winter. They are prolific breeders. Meadow vole populations fluctuate annually and also tend to reach peak densities at two- to five-year intervals, with population declines in intervening years. In many parts of the Valley, it was a very big year for voles. After snowmelt many valley property owners noted extensive amounts of vegetation "clippings: from overwinter vole activity beneath the snow.
Uinta ground squirrels are the common burrowing squirrel in the Greater Yellowstone Area. They are herbivorous, eating a wide variety of plants. Uinta ground squirrels are colonial in nature and aggregations are dense in good habitat. These squirrels hibernate most of the year in Teton Valley (July/August - April).
Controlling unwanted concentrations of these animals can be easy or difficult depending on your goals.  Minimizing rodent damage on a lawn around living space will be relatively easy. Irrigated sod-forming lawns will somewhat inhibit both voles and northern pocket gophers, although in big vole years you will see some impacts. Uinta ground squirrels are easily trapped and removed from lawn areas using live traps. Ground squirrels can also be shot where town and county ordinances allow.
Controlling all of these animals on 20 acres of uncultivated land in Teton Valley will be difficult. I suggest you identify your goals for control and either contact an IDFG wildlife biologist at the Upper Snake Regional  Office in Idaho Falls (208) 525-7290; or the Teton County Agriculture Extension Agent in Driggs at (208) 354-2961. Best of Luck.

Answered on: 
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 4:00 PM MDT