Saskatchewan Declares War On Gophers The Canadian province just passed a bill that designates gophers, or ground squirrels, a pest and includes them in the Pest Control Act. Liane Hansen speaks with wildlife scientist Gilbert Proulx, who has been a conducting a study on why the ground squirrels problem is so extensive in western Canada, and what can be done to address it.
NPR logo

Saskatchewan Declares War On Gophers

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/125554722/125554695" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Saskatchewan Declares War On Gophers

Saskatchewan Declares War On Gophers

Saskatchewan Declares War On Gophers

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/125554722/125554695" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Canadian province just passed a bill that designates gophers, or ground squirrels, a pest and includes them in the Pest Control Act. Liane Hansen speaks with wildlife scientist Gilbert Proulx, who has been a conducting a study on why the ground squirrels problem is so extensive in western Canada, and what can be done to address it.

LIANE HANSEN, Host:

Gophers have officially been declared a pest in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. The rodents, Richardson ground squirrels to be exact, are destroying acres of valuable pasture and farmland. Dr. Gilbert Proulx has been studying ground squirrels for a number of years and is currently researching different methods of addressing the problems. He joins us from his office near Edmonton, Alberta. Good morning, Dr. Proulx.

GILBERT PROULX: Yes, good morning.

HANSEN: Describe what happens to these fields after these ground squirrels come in.

PROULX: Every decade since the beginning of Canada, there has been a few years of drought. We had a drought in the early 2000s, which kept the grass low. And when the grass is not growing well, the ground squirrels do very well because they like to be in the open.

HANSEN: Do you think they're worthy of being labeled pests?

PROULX: Well, the ground squirrel plays a real important role in its environment. They are the prey of many predators, and I could not think of a day when you get up in the prairies without listening to a ground squirrel.

HANSEN: I understand that the ground squirrels actually can warn each other about threats.

PROULX: Well, they talk a lot among themselves, and I think that when they see something that is scaring them, they whistle something that the others understand, and suddenly, we have a bunch of them all going underground.

HANSEN: Are there any solutions that can meet the interests of farmers who need to make a living and environmentalists who are concerned about protecting these animals?

PROULX: And if the farmers integrate controlled changes with chemical use, they will eventually control those populations without killing everything.

HANSEN: Dr. Gilbert Proulx is the director of science at Alpha Wildlife Research Management in Canada. Thanks so much for speaking with us.

PROULX: Thank you, it was a pleasure.

HANSEN: This is NPR News.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.