Activists blast gopher poisoning at Robb Field
Published - 08/05/09 - 05:27 PM | 18186 views | 2 2 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Gophers have made many enemies at Robb Field in Ocean Beach, burrowing and creating numerous holes on the park’s playing fields. The San Diego-based Animal Protection and Rescue League (APRL), however, is not among that list of enemies.

APRL is urging the city to find a non-lethal method to control the gopher population at Robb Field.

To combat the rodents, the city currently uses a weekly poison bait that resembles seeds that gophers eat. The bait is placed in tunnels where gophers collect it and fatally ingest it.

“They had someone coming out and baiting once a week, which we don’t approve of,” said APRL outreach director Christina Tacoronti. “They were also thinking about using other lethal methods to get rid of the gophers.”

So far, however, ARPL has not taken further action than putting in a pair of calls to deputy director of community parks Clay Bingham. Bingham asked the group for a legal solution but said he has not gotten any feedback.

“When they called me, the first thing I asked was, ‘Do you guys have a certified method of dealing with gophers? I would be happy to consider it if you will send me that information,’” Bingham said. “To date, they haven’t sent me anything.”

Bingham said the city uses a pest control firm that meets qualifications established by the state and federal government. He said the firm uses the lowest amount of pesticide that can possibly be used.

“It poses no threat of secondary poisoning — it’s not something that can be ingested by a pet or by a child,” Bingham said. “It’s applied in such a manner that protects the public.”

According to Bingham, gophers create soft spots and holes at Robb Field that patrons trip on. He said the pesticide is only applied in areas where there is an issue.

“We only have a problem if they go after our shrubs and horticulture or if they create a hazard on a playing field,” Bingham said. “Otherwise they are left to their own devices.”

APRL’s solution to the gopher population problem involves what it calls common sense and a slightly different approach.

“When we have any sort of wildlife population coming into an urban area,” Tacoronti said, “the two main things we need to focus on are prevention and deterrence.”

According to Tacoronti, prevention involves not feeding the animals because any secondary source of food will boost their population. She said the gopher problem prevention at Robb Field also involves making sure that all trashcans in the park are secure.

In combination with this, APRL prefers deterring animals from making an area such as Robb Field a habitat — but in a way that is not harmful to them. Tacoronti said examples of non-lethal deterrents are ground vibrations and simulating the sounds that predators of the gopher make.

“There’s many non-lethal deterrents that can be used to get the gophers out of Robb Field,” Tacoronti said.

APRL started campaigning against wildlife poisoning in 2007 as a result of squirrels being poisoned in Balboa Park. The result of that effort were hundreds of signs in the park asking the public not to feed the squirrels, something that Tacoronti said helped control the squirrel populations there.

“We definitely would have loved to have seen the city of San Diego stop poisoning altogether,” Tacoronti said, “but the fact that we were able to put up signs alerting the public about how feeding squirrels actually leads to a population boom was very helpful; just getting that knowledge out to the public so individuals can do something about it.”

The organization also works regularly to raise public awareness about the effects of animal poisoning. For more information on APRL, visit

Comments-icon Post a Comment
February 23, 2011
I don't understand this. We have had our house in San Diego treated for years by Critter Busters. They use a substance called 'fumitoxin' which is a gas that acutely kills gophers in their burrows and poses no problem to non-target animals because there is no secondary kill. The pesticide leaves no residual pesticide in the ground after about a day. In fact, I even think the city of San Diego was using Critter Busters for their gopher control at the time. What's the big deal?
August 13, 2010
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