Ground squirrel population on rise in Calgary and area, says exterminator

It’s not Caddyshack, but a Calgary exterminator is busier than ever trying to deal with the city’s booming burrowing rodent population.

Burrowing rodents ‘popping up everywhere’

A very surprised Richardson ground squirrel, pictured in Fish Creek Park in Calgary. (Anne Elliott/Flickr)

It's not Caddyshack, but a Calgary exterminator is busier than ever trying to deal with the city's booming burrowing rodent population.

"They're popping up everywhere. We're seeing them in rural communities in Calgary. We were just out in Nanton recently and did a couple of big school yards," said Greg Rolfe with CRT Gopher Exterminators.

"There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to where they're popping up. But they're all over the place."

The burrowing rodents dine on gardens and build tunnels under lawns, which can be a liability in rural areas.

"We've had people who have had horses break legs because they step into holes."

Rolfe said he's had more calls this year than last from homeowners wanting to get rid of pesky Richardson's ground squirrels, often misnamed gophers.

He exterminates both species the same way — by pumping 60 to 70 pounds of pressured carbon monoxide into their burrows.

No explosives necessary

David Gray, host of the Calgary Eyeopener, interviewed Greg Rolfe earlier this week. Here's an edited version of that conversation:

DG: "This isn't Caddyshack. You're not actually going after them with explosives?"

GR: "Absolutely not. There was that incident with The Rodenator years back in Springbank."

DG: "The Rodenator?!!"

GR: "You put propane down the hole. You light it and blow up the holes. It caught a fella's place on fire out in Springbank. So, we want to stay clear of that.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.