SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- A headache is popping up for vineyards and golf courses -- gophers!
Breeding season is here and it's costing thousands of dollars.
According to the Kessler-Haak Vineyard and Wines Facebook page by March 8th, the winery had pulled out nearly 500 gophers.
Rancho Maria golf course keepers say the gophers are increasing in number because of their breeding population and they are trying to trap them and poison them to keep the population in check.
"If we don't control them out in the rough areas, they eventually work their way to the fairways and over the years, we've even had a couple pop up on some green," says Rancho Maria Golf Course Superintendent Dennis Brown. "Which causes a lot of problems."
So many problems, it costs Rancho Maria Golf Course an estimated $1,500 a year, just to get rid of them.
"If you don't keep them under control, they can totally devastates a golf course," says Brown.
In order to catch one of these gophers, you first have to find a mound. Then puncture the soil about six inches away and once you feel the ground buckle, you've found a run.
"Underneath, there are runs connecting these mounds and they eat roots and grass, they'll eat gopher tree roots, plants, whatever," says Brown.
"We going to put the poison inside," says Rancho Maria Golf Course Greens Keeper Juan Rodriguez. "And that's it. It's ready!"
Grounds keepers say the gopher breeding season occurs during March through June and they hope the gopher activity will die down by July.
"I hate to do this," says Brown. "I love all kinds of creatures but I can't let (them) take over the golf course!"
The golf course also uses traps instead of poison. A dozen are set up right now but staff says the traps are less effective.
The winery says the gopher population has exploded since harvest season and it's gotten to the point where they were trapping more than 75 gophers a day