In many states west of the Mississippi River, gophers are serious pests of agriculture, forests, gardens, lawns, and landscapes. These burrowing rodents are well adapted to a life underground, tunneling the soil extensively with their large and powerful front teeth and feeding voraciously on whatever plant matter they encounter. A single acre of ground may support 15 to 50 gophers. An alfalfa field infested by gophers may lose 20 to 50 percent of the crop, and their tunnels damage farm equipment and irrigation dikes. Gophers damage orchards and forests by girdling or clipping stems and pruning the roots. They rapidly destroy gardens and ornamental plantings, and sometimes gnaw through buried electrical cables and irrigation pipes.
In natural areas, gophers serve a beneficial role by turning over huge amounts of soil, thereby aerating it, reducing compaction, and improving water retention. One study estimated that a single gopher can process 2-1/4 tons of soil a year! Gophers also add organic matter in the form of wastes and unconsumed plant matter. Other small animals, such as toads, mice, and snakes, use the empty tunnels for shelter. It’s not too hard to visualize gophers as big, furry earthworms. That said, if you have gophers in your yard, they will definitely ruin your day. In this file you will learn how gophers live, how to diagnose a gopher problem, and how to prevent or control them.