California’s New Laws Affect Ground Squirrel Control Efforts

Last Modified on May 21, 2024 by Zachary Smith

The Pests Stop Here!

(408) 871-6988

On This Page

    Loading...

If you’ve ever had digging, burrowing ground squirrels on your property, you know exactly how destructive they can be.

In the past, you may have turned to rodenticides or other toxic products to control them.

However, at the end of 2023, California passed The California Ecosystems Protection Act of 2023 (also known as Assembly Bill 1322), which placed a moratorium on one of the most popular first-generation anticoagulants.

This new law changes the way homeowners and pest management professionals can control ground squirrel populations and forces a new focus on holistic control methods.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is The California Ecosystems Protection Act of 2023?

The California Ecosystems Protection Act of 2023 strives to protect the state’s various ecosystems from dangerous or poorly handled rodenticides.

Specifically, the law bans the use of first-generation anticoagulant rodenticides that contain Diphacinone, a popular (and effective) ingredient in rodenticides, for decades.

To put it plainly, the passage of this bill removed most of the bait products pest management professionals use to get rid of ground squirrels.

By restricting Diphacinone-containing baits, the Act pushes California pest professionals and homeowners to prioritize more sustainable and eco-friendly pest management strategies that don’t pose a risk to the state’s wildlife.

How Does This New Law Affect Ground Squirrel Control Efforts?

Assembly Bill 1322 will significantly impact how homeowners and pest management professionals can target ground squirrels in California.

Here are the most significant changes:

  • The Bill Promotes Holistic Pest Control Methods: At its core, Assembly Bill 1322 was drawn up to protect wildlife from unintentional contact with rodenticides. Most of us agree that this is a good thing (rodenticides have been involved in the unintended poisoning of at least 38 different species in California). Still, it does mean that homeowners will have to stop relying so much on baits and shift their focus to ground-up, holistic control methods instead.
  • The Remaining Products are Only Suitable for Large Lots: After the passage of Assembly Bill 1322, we pest management professionals still have access to one very effective product (Rozol Ground Squirrel Bait). This product must be used at least 50 feet from a structure. While that’s fine for homes on larger lots, it won’t work for most properties. Notably, this product also requires a license, so it’s not available to the average homeowner.

What’s the Best Way to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Now?

get rid of ground squirrels california

If you have ground squirrels in your yard, they didn’t get there on their own.

Instead, ground squirrel infestations indicate a population of hundreds or even thousands in the original colony that’s producing the infestation.

This means that if you want to eliminate the problem, you need to reduce the colony’s size.

While bait was a great way to do that (since ground squirrels would travel from far away to eat the bait), Assembly Bill 1322 now means we must focus on catching ground squirrels one by one.

Here’s what we recommend:

Trapping

Trapping ground squirrels is an effective way to manage the critters without using toxic bait that could harm other wildlife or the environment.

The process involves setting specially designed traps in areas where ground squirrels are active. These traps catch and kill the ground squirrels, so you know exactly how many you get rid of daily.

What homeowners need to know about trapping is that its effectiveness and specificity come at a cost. Hiring a professional team to set up and monitor ground squirrel traps can be expensive.

Ultimately, however, it’s the most effective way to eliminate ground squirrel populations now that baits have been restricted.

Exclusion

Exclusion refers to the process of keeping ground squirrels out of and away from your property.

While ground squirrels can climb over and dig under a lot of fencing, exclusion efforts are still totally worthwhile.

The harder you can make your yard to get into, the fewer ground squirrels you’ll have to deal with.

Here are our top tips:

  • Underground Fencing: Install wire mesh fencing that extends at least 18 inches below the surface to prevent ground squirrels from digging underneath. Use durable materials like galvanized steel mesh, which offers resistance to chewing and digging. If you’re creating a new section of sod or a garden bed, lay down wire mesh before you plant the area.
  • Rock-Lined Trenches: Dig a trench around the perimeter of your yard or garden and fill it with rocks or gravel. This acts as a physical barrier to deter digging. Ensure the trench is deep and wide enough to prevent ground squirrels from easily crossing.
  • Gopher Baskets: Consider using gopher baskets to protect individual plants or smaller garden areas. These wire mesh enclosures are placed in the ground around plants’ root systems. They provide a protective barrier against ground squirrels without restricting plant growth.
  • Repellents: Commercial repellents are formulated to deter ground squirrels by making the area unpleasant for them to live in. That said, repellents only work if you use them all the time. For them to be effective, you need to saturate the soil with them and water them in thoroughly.

Food Source Removal

To keep ground squirrels away from your property, it can help to remove their food sources.

Here’s what we recommend:

  • Keep it Clean: Keep your outdoor eating areas clean, and securely cover compost bins and garbage cans. Ground squirrels are opportunistic feeders and will take advantage of any accessible food.
  • Remove Bird Feeders: If ground squirrels are a problem, consider removing bird feeders or switching to models designed to minimize spillage. Bird seed is an attractive food source for these annoying pests.
  • Maintain your Garden and Lawn: Regularly harvest ripe fruits and vegetables, as ground squirrels are drawn to them. Keep your lawn mowed and remove weeds to reduce shelter and food sources for ground squirrels. If you cannot get rid of your ground squirrels, consider abandoning your gardening efforts.
  • Limit Water Access: Ground squirrels need water to survive. Fix any leaking taps or sprinklers and cover or remove water bowls and bird baths if ground squirrels are frequent visitors.

Trapping is The Future of Ground Squirrel Control and Smith’s can Help!

While California has long discussed limiting access to rodenticides, the government has not taken aggressive steps to do so—until now.

Given this change, it’s safe to say that we’ll continue to see more pesticide products removed from the market and that trapping will become the top solution for ground squirrel control over the next few years.

If you’re facing a ground squirrel infestation and you’re not sure where to turn, give our team a call.

We’ve been providing targeted gopher, mole, rat, and ground squirrel control for Bay Area homeowners for more than 15 years, and we’re here to help you discover the ground squirrel control methods that are available to you – even after the passage of this new law.

Ready to learn more? Contact us today.

Author Bio: Zach Smith

Landscape Pro Turned Gopher Pro: Owner, Zach Smith, graduate of Cal Poly’s Horticulture program worked nine years as a landscape professional- dealing with gophers, moles, and ground squirrels and was quickly recruited by other local gardeners. Fast forward to the past 15+ years, where Zach and his team trap and remove burrowing pests from residential, municipal and commercial properties throughout the San Francisco Bay area, from Marin to Monterey.