Richardson ground squirrels or gophers can be a major problem for farmers and ranchers.

The adults tend to emerge in early spring as the temperature warms up and then are above ground for about four months.

Insect and vertebrate pest management specialist Dr. James Tansey says the males tend to appear two weeks before the females, but it's really the adult females that you need to target and get early prior to the litters.

With the use of Strychnine now prohibited producers are looking for other control methods.

Research trials last year in southwest Saskatchewan and southeast Alberta looked at some alternative products.

Tansey says they compared the effectiveness of strychnine with anticoagulants Rozol RTU and Ramik Green and zinc phosphide products Burrow Oat bait and ZP Rodent Oat Bait.

"These are treated oat bait, they come in 50-pound bags.  You fire a spoon in and fire it down the hole. Very easy to use, be sure to wear a mask of course."

He notes in Saskatchewan, the testing was done around the RM of Maple Creek, an area with a high richardson ground squirrel population.

"Burrow Oat Bair and ZP Rodent Oat Bai, so that was the two zinc phosphide products are efficacious. We're looking at 80 per cent knockdown in the populations associated with those. Not a significant difference with Ramik Green but survivorship was numerically higher and Rozol survivorship was significantly higher."

He notes a companion study in Alberta had similar results with good control, but they didn't detect significant differences between the anticoagulants, zinc phosphide, and strychnine.

Tansey says they are conducting the study again this year in order to gather more information.