Friday, September 07, 2012

Boom goes the squirrel tunnel

In this new issue of Golfdom we have an in-depth story on squirrel control on golf courses, penned by Jim Knight, Ph.D. You can read it by clicking here. Jim is an extension wildlife specialist at Montana State University, and if there's one thing he knows, it's how to kill a squirrel.

My favorite part from that story: gumballs. "Gumballs have been reported to clog the intestinal tract of squirrels... Most of the claims are anecdotal, there is no evidence populations will consume enough to result in reliable control."

So don't bother throwing a bag of Big League Chew down the squirrel tunnel!

The story has caught a few eyes, including the folks over at Rodenator. They gave me a call to see if I'd be interested in learning more about their system, which includes an "underground shockwave."

Did they say "underground shockwave?" Then you know my answer was "yes!

They sent me a longer story, but I clipped it down to the part about their product, and how it works. Here's the last part of the story, written by Del Williams of Torrance, Calif.: 

Those working to eradicate burrowing rodents in golf course facilities without poisons or other harmful chemicals, are instead finding success with a poison-free, non-chemical, pest control method that delivers a precision underground shockwave to the targeted animals while also collapsing their tunnel systems to prevent re-infestation.

“With the Rodenator system, we eliminated the prairie dog problem and much of the ground squirrel problem within the first month,” says Walker. “We have the burrowing rodent problem under control. We’re saving about 30 hours a week in burrowing rodent-related labor and grounds-equipment repair. We avoid costly, labor-intensive poison baiting and trapping. Overall, we could save tens of thousands of dollars over the next several years in repair, maintenance, and labor costs. The grounds are shaping up, which makes for better, safer, faster play, and happier golfers.”

As delivered by the Rodenator Pest Elimination System, developed by Meyer Industries, a wand is inserted into a burrow hole, and a mixture of oxygen and propane gas is shot into the hole for typically sixty to ninety seconds, depending on the type of animal. Then another button on the wand is pressed, igniting a spark into the mixture, creating a precision underground shockwave. 

The shockwave instantly kills the burrowing rodent while also destroying the tunnel. Although it has drawn some complaints by PETA, the American Veterinary Medical Association considers death by concussion with sufficient force to be “a humane method of euthanasia.”

“There’s an immediate reduction in mound and hole digging activity, which shows the system’s effectiveness,” says Walker. “Ongoing monitoring and maintenance of golf facilities is still needed due to their size, and the possibility of burrowing rodents coming in from neighboring properties.” 

Because the mixture is consumed immediately and completely, it leaves no chemical residue behind. In one fell swoop, the animals are extinguished and the tunnel system local to the hole is collapsed. This eliminates handling and disposal of the carcass, and prevents re-infestation of the tunnels by neighboring rodents.

“Since the Rodenator’s mixture is completely consumed on ignition, there is no chemical residue, just a little water vapor and carbon dioxide,” explains Walker. “The process collapses the tunnel system of burrowing rodents and buries their carcasses, so there’s no concern about poisons or secondary poisoning. This makes it difficult for invading animals to get established because they have to dig their own burrows, rather than simply move into old ones.” 

In a golf course, the turf’s root system holds the top of the ground together so detonation of the gas and collapse of the tunnel system causes little, if any, grounds damage. Occasionally, the collapse of the tunnel system will part a small section of turf near the surface. But the groundskeeper can control the extent of this by how much gas is injected. Since the groundskeeper is right there controlling and monitoring the process, he can quickly smooth out any parting of the turf, which quickly grows back. 

“For us, there was very minimal turf repair needed when using the system, except for filling in the rodent hole, which we would’ve done anyway,” says Walker.

To increase operator productivity and comfort, Walker chose to use the new R3 Pest Elimination System, which adds wired detonation up to 25 feet from the source, and 20% more power to the industry leading Rodenator line.

“We wanted the extra power to penetrate into prairie dog burrows, which can reach up to 100 feet deep,” says Walker. “Wired detonation up to 25 feet from the source adds to operator comfort and productivity when using the device over an extended period.”

For more info, call 1-800-750-4553; fax 208-365-3338; visit; email; or write to Meyer Industries at PO Box 39, Emmett, ID 83617.

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