How to get rid of gophers?

I live in Bay area, San Francisco. I found that my front yard has a lot of small holes. Everytime I fill them up, they will pop up somewhere else. I don't know what kind of creatures they are (gophers?). I just want to get rid of them.
Do you know a way not too messy (i.e., don't want to see dead animals everywhere) to get rid of them?
My house is on a raised foundation just like other old houses in this area. Will they do any damage to the foundation or any piping underneath? Thanks for your help.
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Bill wrote:

They are most likely moles. Moles eat grubs in the soil. They will not harm your foundation or any pipes buried in the soil.
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Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8
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You might have voles, meaning field mice. Moles will push up the eart
into humpy tunnels as they move along; voles are smaller, so you woul just see the entry holes as evidence.
Voles can be deterred a number of ways, but if your neighbors have the too, you probably will only be able to get rid of them for a few month at a time before they'll come back.
You can trap them with mousetraps. Bait with peanut butter, and pu the mousetrap on the ground next to a hole. Cover the hole and th mousetrap with an overturned bucket. Leave there for a few days, the check the trap.
You can poison them with mole/vole killer. It's dried corn impregnate with poison. Good way to lace your garden soil with chemicals. Obviously, don't grow any edibles if you use this method.
You can spray the yard with castor oil. I have no idea whether tha works.
You can sprinkle the yard with water filled with nematodes, in June. This kills your grubs, so the voles will find fewer fast-food meal within your soil. They may leave the yard in search of food. But they may come back if they miss the taste of your seedlings' roots an rhododendron bark, or whatever plant materials they like in your yard. Or, a new population may move in.
You can bury bulbs in two inches of sharp pebbles or wire cages. Spra tulip and crocus flowers when they emerge with a solution of water dishwashing liquid, garlic oil, and tabasco sauce.
Good luck.
Bill Wrote:

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Julia T wrote:

I have never seen moles "push up the earth into humpy tunnels". They will push up the earth from their tunneling into mounds but there is no evidence of their tunnels on the surface.
<snip>
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Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
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It's not their commonest method but occasionally (especially in a badly grub infested lawn) the mole will move under the sod so close to the surface that you can see the whole length of a tunnel. A mole wouldn't likely do this if the lawn was not infested with tasty grubs of some kind, as skimming just under the surface makes them vulnerable to predators or just to dogs.
As for the mole mounds of dirt per se, that is just where they are emptying out their tunnels pushing soil to the surface. Mole hills aren't part of the tunnels & are not used for exits. Their entrance/exit will be much more difficult to spot.
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There are a few traps for gophers/moles, but most of them are a pain to use, and then there is the hassle of having to retrieve the trap and dispose of the contents. I prefer to use bait. And in Washington state, they are, or were illegal to use.
Mole bait is this gel that supposedly looks like a grub or slug, gopher bait is usually a block or pellets. You rarely see poisoned rodents, the poison causes the rodent to die of internal bleeding, so they usually go back to their nest to rest.
These are the two brand's you'll most likely see at home depot or orchard supply.
http://www.tomcatbrand.com/molegopher.html http://www.victorpest.com/store/dept.asp?dept%5Fid 
You used to be able to buy poison gas smoke bombs, which worked with questionable reliability, but product liability issues got rid of them from most stores. You would cover up all the holes you could find, shove a smoke bomb down a hole or two, light it, then cover those up too, with the hope that the poison smoke would gas the gopher. The problem with it was that by the time you got all the holes covered up, the gopher had plugged up the tunnels, so you never actually gassed them.
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wrote:

You have to identify the creature making the holes. Since you say "small holes" i won't consider ground squirrels (you would probably have seen these anyhow)
You have to decide whether you have Gophers or Moles.
They both dig tunnels and dispose of the excess soil above ground.
Moles stay underground and push the soil out of the tunnel from below. This produces a roundish mound with an irregular surface without any of the tunnel being visible.
Gophers push the soil completely out of the hole making a 'volcano' or 'fan' shaped mound where the tunnel (which may be plugged) is usually visible. Gophers also make a 'feeding hole' that they use for getting above ground to nibble the vegetation around it. This is plugged when not in use but no soil is pushed above ground.
Once you see a few it is easy to tell the difference

If you have gophers there are several "Gopher Baits" on the market . Buy it at a good nursery or garden store where the people know the local laws and what they are selling(good luck)
Read The Label.
The strychnine kind has a strong taste and if it doesn't kill the gopher it will remember and avoid it in the future. Another uses a warfarin- type of anticoagulant poison that is my choice. The strychnine is more likely to cause secondary poisoning although when gophers start feeling sick they tend to go to their nest chamber and die underground Use a soil probe to poke small holes and insert some bait. The gopher eats it or takes it back to the nest where it is eaten or stored.
I ignore moles except to repair their damage

They are unlikely to cause much damage except to plants. Gophers might chew through plastic pipe or underground wiring but I don't think this is common
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Bill,
Whatever is digging around, they are part of the natural system. These mammals are plowing the earth while you sleep. Plant something they like to eat in the areas you want them to dig and lead them away from favorites. Gophers and moles are harmless and never over populate. When food gets scarce they move on.
Nature will eventually decompose your carcass too.
If you must, there is a gopher plant which repels burrowing mammals. It is a lovely plant, dark green and is hardy in California.
Later
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Nonsense.
As a natural system they WILL ALWAYS overpopulate when food is plentiful. When food gets scarce they die of starvation. THAT IS THE NATURAL CYCLE.
rabbits, gophers, moles, squirrels, coyotes, wolves, snakes, mice, deer, people, and etc. all go thru those cycles.
As for gophers in the lawn and garden I've had some success trying one or both of traps and poison bait. The rodenator looks like loads of fun though. :) Even more fun now that I'm battling a gopher that is turning my front garden into the appearance of a minefield. :(
sdb
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these words:

Not quite. Moles are highly territorial and solitary, and no matter how much food is available, they won't populate an area more densely. Humans do the very opposite of "overpopulate when food is plentiful". Where food is plentiful, as in the affluent west, children are likelier to survive and the breeding rate drops. In most of Europe, more people die than get born, and populations are falling.
When food is short, as in parts of the third world, women produce more children, not fewer; so even though life expectancy is very short, the population is increasing not falling.
Janet
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wrote:

Yes, quite.

The population grows to fit the food. An individual mole's territory shrinks to the defensible size, which size is determined in part by population pressure aka competition.

You are mistaken.

Yes, however that is an abberant behavior caused (most likely) by factors outside of the food-life cycle. Most oft referenced factors include education, selfishness and/or greed, as well as the shift from agrarian to industrial society causing a shift in the value of progeny from asset to liability. Look where those factors are not present and you will see the food-life cycle follows true in humans as well.

Western Europe anyway. The same is true of the U.S. except that immigration keeps population rising.

And what happens in between those extremes? Given adequate food (but no alternatives, education, etc.) to those starving populations for a generation or two, more babies survive, adults live longer, population increases, etc. This is evident thru much of China and India as compared to much of the African continent.
sdb
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