U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service



Kim Wagner

Date of this Version

Fall 1997


Published in Northwest Woodlands - Fall 1997.


At first glance, these small, stocky, short-tailed rodents may seem harmless, but don't let their appearance fool you! Voles (a.k.a. meadow mice) can cause w lot of damage. Voles kill trees by removing all the bark around the base of the tree (girdling), and by feeding on tree roots. Vole damage to seedlings and tree roots can significantly reduce reforestation rates and tree growth. In British Columbia, vole damage was the main reason over 40 percent of the forest plantations examined had inadequate restocking rates. Vole populations follow acyclic pattern with population levels reaching a peak every two to five years. Damage can be especially seven in areas where high vole populations result in increased competition for food. Vole damage is most common during the fall and winter when other foods are limited.