Date of this Version
Aircraft might soon become an important tool for baiting ground squirrels (Citellus beecheyi beecheyi and C. b. fisheri) on California rangeland. Until recently, almost all squirrel control has been conducted by the hand-baiting method, with grain bait scattered from horseback in spoon-size amounts near squirrel burrows. Ground squirrels are considered a major pest of rangeland in many parts of the West. They not only compete with livestock for forage but also are responsible for substantial losses to cereal and other crops. The magnitude of the problem is exemplified by the fact that, in California alone, over 6,000,000 gross acres of range and crop land are treated annually to suppress ground squirrel populations for economic or public-health reasons. For the past three years, studies have been under way to explore the merits of aircraft for baiting Beechey and Fisher ground squirrels. Last year, in an experimental operation, 150,000 acres of squirrel-infested rangeland were treated in San Luis Obispo County, California, under the supervision of the County Agricultural Commissioner.