Is there a humane way to discourage pocket gophers from setting up residence in a yard and garden area? I do not want to use traps or poison.

Less-lethal Ways to Control Pocket Gophers

Plains pocket gopher mounds.

Mounds of the Plains pocket gopher. Photo by Dallas Virchow.

Only three options exist for keeping pocket gophers out of your property without using traps or toxicants.

    The first is to remove all the vegetation. If the pocket gopher cannot find food, he cannot survive.
    Second, pocket gophers don’t dig in wet soil or swamps. You can try flooding the holes, but don’t expect great results.
    Third, install a fence made from 1/4 to 1/2 inch mesh and buried at least 36 inches below the surface and extends at least 1 foot above the surface.  The sandier your soil, the deeper the gophers will burrow, so keep that in mind. In fact, research on Botta pocket gophers indicates that they will burrow below 5 feet (marked gophers in these underground enclosures were found in adjoining enclosures).

Control Methods to Avoid

Repellents, noise/vibration makers, and most other commercial products have not been proven to be effective. Pocket gophers do not hibernate and can continue to cause damage throughout the winter. Caging or boxtrapping of gophers and attempting to translocate them is not really humane; moving the animal (after gaining permission to relocate it to someone-else’s property) almost always results in death of the animal. Gophers are very, very territorial. If you do decide to resort to direct control methods, these are best done in the fall and spring when they are actively creating mounds.

Online Resources

Control of Pocket Gophers in Nebraska