April 29, 2014 4:39 pm

Spring reveals rodent damage on many Capital Region lawns

EDMONTON – Warmer weather may have finally arrived in the Edmonton area, but the spring melt revealed a not-so-nice reality on many yards and lawns: rodent damage.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve had voles and tunnels in the backyard, but it’s one of the worst,” said Donna McColl, from her home on Riverbend Road.

“It seems to depend greatly on the snowpack. The best results we had for a vole-free year is the winter we had a weasel move in the yard,” she added with a smile.

Global News heard from hundreds of homeowners in Edmonton and the surrounding area who are dealing with tunnels and holes in their yards caused by rodents, including voles.

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It appears the small, burrowing, mouse-like rodents have been wreaking havoc over the winter.

“I understand you can try to discourage them from coming back by putting cayenne pepper and ground onions in your garden,” said McColl.

“I think the best thing to do is to rake up the dead grass as quickly as possible so that the new growth can fill in.”

Experts say the damage will vary from property to property, but they have some general instructions.

“Rule of thumb would be: you’re going to clean up the area, you’re going to remove any grass or sod that’s sitting there, and you’re going to settle the ground back into place… then seed over,” said Cinda Thorne from Ellerslie Gift and Garden.

Moles are about seven inches and eat grubs and insects, Thorne said. Voles are about five inches long and tunnel under the ground to find roots and other vegetation to eat.

“Their habit is to hide,” she said, “… and usually they would be under snow and you wouldn’t see them.

“As the season progresses and food sources become a little more available, they will then move off.”

While snow offered some protection this winter, the critters managed to tunnel through yards and golf courses alike.

“The minute we started blowing snow around the greens we noticed it,” said Bob Banham, who adds of Belvedere Golf and Country Club. “It’s the worst I’ve seen in 30 years.

“I think it’s due to the melt that we had in January. It put a crust on the snow and the predators couldn’t get at the mice.”

Banham added that staff have already spent a month trying to repair the rodent damage, which covers much of the course.

“You can see they make runs through here through the winter under the snow. Typically, it’s under areas that drift. It gives them cover longer in the spring.

“Most of it will recover on its own, but it will take until about mid June,” he added.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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