Date of this Version
Proceedings 18th Vertebrate Pest Conference, ed. R.O. Baker & A.C. Crabb. Published at University of California, Davis, 1998.
The pest status of pocket gophers (Thomomys spp. and Geomys spp.) to agricultural crops and home gardens is well established, as is the fact that trapping in the early history of this country and its western expansion was the predominant method of their control. The former payment of bounties for gopher scalps or tails is thought to have stimulated the development and production of dozens of different kinds and models of gopher traps. In the midwest, prior to the industrial revolution, small size leg-hold traps were used for taking gophers because they were the only traps available. By 1880, traps were being developed and manufactured specifically for gophers, with a dozen or so marketed prior to 1900. The zenith of gopher trap development was from 1900 through the 1930s. Following the end of World War II, the use of poison baits for gopher control significantly replaced the use of traps. Five of the most successful gopher traps, all with a long history of production, are enumerated and the specific history of the Macabee gopher trap is detailed.