Richardson ground squirrels or gophers can be a major problem for farmers and ranchers.

The adults tend to emerge in early Spring as the temperature warms up and they are only above ground for about four months.

Saskatchewan's insect and vertebrate pest management specialist Dr. James Tansey says the males tend to appear two weeks before the females, and it's the adult females that you really want to target prior to the litters.

For years, producers have used strychnine for control, however in 2020 the PMRA of Health Canada announced a phase out of the product for ground squirrel control.

That phase out ends March 4, 2023 after that its use will be considered illegal.
During a recent webinar, Tansey talked about a research project that was done in Saskatchewan and Alberta where they compared the effectiveness of some alternative products.

The project included the use of a couple of zinc phosphide products in a ready to use formulation, and a couple anticoagulant formulations Rozol and Ramik Green.

In Saskatchewan, the testing was done around the RM of Maple Creek, an area with a high richardson ground squirrel population.

"Our results indicated good efficacy of all of these products. The best efficacy that we saw in the Saskatchewan portion of the study was with strychnine, the standard of course, but the results were comparable to the zinc phosphide products. So zinc phosphide was as efficacious as the strychnine products in this study."

He notes a companion study in Alberta had similar results with good control, but they didn't detect significant differences between the anticoagulants, zinc phosphide and strychnine.

Tansey says they will conduct the study again in 2023 in order to gather more information. 

In the meantime, he suggests farmers start making inquiries now so they have product available in the spring.