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Rodenator helps control gophers

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By Jennifer Garcia

It’s been an active summer for the animal residents of Los Alamos, particularly the rodent and rattlesnake population.

There’s been an up-tick in the rodent population in Los Alamos because of heavier rainfall this summer, according to the people who have to deal with them.

As a result, there’s also been a spike in the number of rattlesnakes being spotted in residents’ yards.

Barranca Mesa seems to be a popular place for rattlesnakes, and the local snake handler, CJ Carman, has been called out to the area frequently because of them.

Meanwhile, gophers seem to have taken up residence in local ball fields, as well as at the golf course and Overlook Park.

As a result, those who use the facilities are at risk of tripping and falling because of the gopher holes, not to mention the possibility that the critters could carry a disease, such as the plague.

While Carman has a handle on capturing and relocating the snakes, county staff has taken on the gopher problem.

In May, Parks Manager Dick McIntyre and Parks Superintendent Jeff Humpton held a public meeting in the Spirio Field Parking lot at Overlook Park in White Rock. During that meeting, the duo visited with the community and educated them on why the gophers were becoming a problem. They also alerted the community to the action they might take to combat the gophers. One of the possible courses of action was to use a device called the Rodenator.

The Rodenator is manufactured by Meyer Industries, based in Idaho. The device uses propane and oxygen, which are combined and pumped into the gophers’ holes.

A spark from the device ignites the gas and causes an explosion that collapses the tunnels and kills the rodents.

Following the meeting, county staff received the OK from County Administrator Max Baker, to forge ahead with plans to use the device. So far, it has yielded good results.

“We’ve been using it regularly at Overlook and at the golf course. We use it one or two days a week in various areas,” McIntyre said. “It’s working great. It’s doing really well on the ball fields and on Overlook.”

He also said staff members have been using the Rodenator beyond the fencing area to keep the gophers under wraps.

Apparently residents have no complaints regarding the Rodenator. McIntyre said he’s received no complaints, however he’s had people ask if they can have their yards done.

Though the device has helped stamp out the problem, so far, McIntyre said that the gophers will never be completely gone. “You’ll never eradicate the gophers, but you can control the problem, pretty much,” he said.