The Best Methods For Eliminating Ground Squirrels In Iowa: A Comprehensive Guide

how to kill ground squirrels in iowa

Ground squirrels can be a nuisance for homeowners and gardeners in Iowa. These small critters are known for burrowing holes in lawns, causing damage to plants, and even posing a threat to the structural integrity of buildings. If you're facing a ground squirrel problem in Iowa, it's important to know effective ways to eliminate these pests and protect your property. In this guide, we'll explore different methods and strategies for killing ground squirrels and regaining control over your outdoor space.

Characteristics Values
Ground Squirrel Type Iowa Ground Squirrel
Preferred Method of Control Trapping or Shooting
Trapping Live traps or cage traps
Bait with seeds or nuts
Release captured squirrels in a different location
Shooting Use a .22 caliber rifle
Locate squirrel dens or burrows
Shoot squirrels from a safe distance
Poisoning Not recommended due to potential harm to other animals and the environment
Repellents Different types available such as predator urine or ultrasonic devices
Effectiveness may vary
Professional Help Contact local pest control or wildlife management agencies for assistance
Prevention Remove attractants such as food sources and shelter
Seal off entry points to structures
Regularly inspect and repair fences or barriers
Trim branches that provide access to buildings


What are the most effective methods for killing ground squirrels in Iowa?

Ground squirrels can be a nuisance in Iowa, causing damage to crops, gardens, and property. To effectively manage their population, it is important to employ effective methods for killing ground squirrels. In this article, we will explore several approaches, ranging from scientific methods to experience-based techniques, to help you control ground squirrel populations in Iowa.


Trapping is often considered one of the most humane and effective methods for killing ground squirrels. Live-traps can be used to capture ground squirrels, allowing you to easily relocate them away from your property. To trap ground squirrels effectively, follow these steps:

  • Identify active burrow systems: Look for fresh dirt around burrow entrances, droppings, or signs of feeding to identify active burrows.
  • Set up multiple traps: Place live-traps near active burrows, ensuring that they are properly secured and baited. Peanut butter or sunflower seeds are commonly used as bait.
  • Check traps regularly: It is essential to check traps frequently to prevent stress or harm to trapped ground squirrels. Relocate them to suitable habitat away from human dwellings.


Shooting can be an effective method for killing ground squirrels if done safely and legally. This method requires skill and precision to ensure a humane and successful kill. If you choose to use this method, follow these guidelines:

  • Use a high-powered rifle: A .22 caliber or larger rifle with proper sights and ammunition is recommended for accurate shooting.
  • Safety precautions: Always ensure that you are shooting in a safe direction and that you have a clear line of sight. Do not shoot near buildings, roads, or in populated areas.
  • Aim for vital areas: Make sure to aim for headshots or heart/lung shots to ensure a quick and humane kill.


Fumigation can be an effective method for killing ground squirrels when other methods are not practical or possible. Fumigants release toxic gases into the burrows, suffocating the squirrels. Follow the steps below when using fumigation:

  • Select the appropriate fumigant: Choose a fumigant that is effective against ground squirrels and approved for use in your area.
  • Apply fumigant properly: Carefully follow the instructions provided with the fumigant. Generally, this involves pouring or injecting the fumigant into the burrow entrance and quickly sealing it to prevent escape.
  • Seal adjacent burrows: If possible, seal any adjacent burrows to prevent squirrels from escaping during the fumigation process.

Predator introduction:

Introducing natural predators to an area can be an effective long-term solution to control ground squirrel populations. Predators such as coyotes, foxes, or birds of prey can help keep ground squirrel populations in check. However, this method requires careful consideration of the local ecosystem and potential impacts on other species.

It is important to note that killing ground squirrels should always be done ethically and in accordance with local laws and regulations. Additionally, it is often helpful to combine multiple methods to achieve the best results. Installing fencing to deter ground squirrel access to desirable areas and removing food sources can also aid in management efforts.

In summary, trapping, shooting, fumigation, and predator introduction are all effective methods for killing ground squirrels in Iowa. By using a combination of these techniques, you can effectively manage ground squirrel populations and protect your property. Remember to prioritize safety, ethics, and compliance with local regulations when implementing any control method.


Ground squirrels, commonly known as gophers or pocket gophers, are small burrowing rodents that can cause significant damage to crops and gardens. In Iowa, these pests have recently become a problem for many farmers and homeowners. To address this issue, many people are wondering if there are any legal restrictions or regulations on killing ground squirrels in Iowa.

In Iowa, ground squirrels are classified as agricultural pests and can be controlled or killed without a permit or license, as long as it is done in a legal and humane manner. However, there are a few important things to keep in mind when dealing with these rodents.

Firstly, it is essential to correctly identify the species of ground squirrels present in your area. There are different types of ground squirrels, such as the thirteen-lined ground squirrel, the Franklin's ground squirrel, and the Eastern gray squirrel. Each species may have different regulations or restrictions, so it is crucial to know the specific species you are dealing with.

In Iowa, the most common type of ground squirrel is the thirteen-lined ground squirrel (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus). This species is primarily found in open grasslands and agricultural areas, making them a significant threat to crops. However, they are also protected under the Iowa Code, which states that it is unlawful to kill, possess, or transport any protected wildlife without a valid permit or license.

To legally control or kill thirteen-lined ground squirrels in Iowa, you must obtain a permit from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The permit allows you to use lethal control methods, such as trapping, shooting, or using chemical repellents, to manage the population of these pests on your property. The permit may have certain restrictions or requirements, such as specific trapping methods, baiting guidelines, or reporting obligations, which must be followed.

It is important to note that killing ground squirrels without a permit or in a manner that violates state or federal laws can result in fines, penalties, or legal consequences. Additionally, it is important to consider alternative methods of control before resorting to lethal measures. Non-lethal methods, such as habitat modification, fencing, or repellents, can be effective in deterring ground squirrels from your property without causing harm to the animals or violating any laws.

In conclusion, killing ground squirrels in Iowa, specifically the thirteen-lined ground squirrel, without a permit or in violation of state or federal laws is illegal. To control or kill these pests legally, you must obtain a permit from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and follow any restrictions or regulations outlined in the permit. It is recommended to explore non-lethal methods of control before resorting to lethal measures, as they can be effective and more humane.


What are the potential risks or drawbacks of using lethal methods to control ground squirrel populations in Iowa?

Ground squirrels are a common nuisance in many areas, causing damage to crops, gardens, and structures. In Iowa, farmers and homeowners often turn to lethal methods to control ground squirrel populations. While these methods may seem effective in the short term, they can have significant risks and drawbacks that should be considered before implementing them.

One potential risk of using lethal methods is the unintended harm it can cause to other wildlife species. Ground squirrels are not the only animals that may be affected by these methods. Predators such as hawks, owls, and foxes rely on ground squirrels as a food source. When ground squirrel populations decline due to lethal control methods, these predators may suffer from a lack of food, leading to imbalances in the ecosystem. Additionally, other non-target species, such as rabbits or voles, may fill the ecological niche left by the extermination of ground squirrels, causing further problems for farmers and homeowners.

Lethal control methods also have the potential to cause harm to humans and pets. The use of toxic bait or poisons can be dangerous if not used properly, and accidental ingestion or exposure can have serious consequences. There is also the risk of secondary poisoning, where predators or scavengers consume poisoned ground squirrels and suffer harmful effects as a result. This can create a dangerous cycle where the unintended targets of lethal control methods are affected and potentially harm humans or their pets.

Furthermore, relying solely on lethal methods may not provide a long-term solution to the ground squirrel problem in Iowa. These rodents are known for their ability to reproduce at a rapid rate, with some ground squirrel species producing multiple litters per year. Killing individual ground squirrels without addressing the underlying factors contributing to their population growth, such as habitat suitability or food availability, may not effectively control the overall population. This can lead to a continuous cycle of extermination efforts that fail to achieve desired results.

An alternative approach to lethal control methods is integrated pest management (IPM), which emphasizes the use of multiple, non-lethal techniques to manage pest populations. IPM strategies for ground squirrels may include habitat modification, exclusion techniques, or the use of repellents. By focusing on long-term prevention and management rather than solely on extermination, IPM can provide more sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions.

In conclusion, while lethal methods may seem initially effective in controlling ground squirrel populations in Iowa, they come with significant risks and drawbacks. The unintended harm to other wildlife species, the potential danger to humans and pets, and the limited effectiveness in long-term population management should all be considered before implementing lethal control methods. Integrated pest management offers a more sustainable alternative that considers the ecological implications of pest control and aims to address the root causes of the problem.


Are there any non-lethal methods or alternatives for managing ground squirrels in Iowa?

Ground squirrels are a common nuisance in many areas, including Iowa. These small rodents can cause damage to gardens, yards, and agricultural fields. While it may be tempting to resort to lethal methods to manage ground squirrels, there are also non-lethal alternatives that can be effective in controlling their population.

One non-lethal method for managing ground squirrels is exclusion. This involves blocking off access points that the squirrels use to enter an area. For example, if the ground squirrels are digging under a fence and entering a garden, the fence can be reinforced by burying hardware cloth or wire mesh several inches below the ground. This will prevent the squirrels from being able to dig under the fence and enter the garden. Similarly, if the squirrels are using tree branches to access roofs or attics, pruning those branches can prevent their access.

Another non-lethal method is habitat modification. Ground squirrels prefer areas with ample cover and food sources. By reducing these resources, the population of squirrels can be naturally controlled. This can be done by removing dense vegetation, reducing debris piles, and keeping the area free of fallen fruits or nuts that would attract the squirrels. Additionally, reducing or removing bird feeders can help reduce the population of ground squirrels, as they are attracted to spilled birdseed.

Live trapping can also be an effective non-lethal method for managing ground squirrels. Traps can be set in areas where the squirrels are active, baited with their preferred food, such as nuts or seeds. Once the squirrels are trapped, they can be released in a remote location away from human habitation. It's important to note that live trapping should be done in accordance with local regulations and guidelines to ensure the welfare of the squirrels.

In some cases, repellents can also be used to deter ground squirrels. There are a variety of commercial repellents available that can be applied to areas where squirrels are active. These repellents generally use strong odors or tastes that are unpleasant to the squirrels, discouraging them from returning to the area. However, it's important to note that repellents may need to be reapplied regularly and their effectiveness can vary.

It's worth mentioning that non-lethal methods may require patience and persistence, as ground squirrels can be resilient and adaptive. It may take a combination of different methods to effectively manage their population. Additionally, it's important to identify the specific species of ground squirrel present in Iowa, as different species may have different habits and preferences.

In conclusion, while lethal methods may be tempting, there are non-lethal alternatives available for managing ground squirrels in Iowa. These methods include exclusion, habitat modification, live trapping, and the use of repellents. Implementing a combination of these methods may be necessary to effectively control the population of ground squirrels and reduce their impact on gardens, yards, and agricultural fields.


How can I prevent ground squirrels from becoming a nuisance or causing damage on my property in Iowa?

Ground squirrels can be a nuisance and cause damage on your property in Iowa. To prevent them from becoming a problem, it is important to understand their behavior and implement effective strategies. In this article, we will explore how you can prevent ground squirrels from causing damage and becoming a nuisance on your property.

Understand the Behavior of Ground Squirrels:

Ground squirrels are small rodents that burrow in the ground and typically live in open habitats such as fields, meadows, and lawns. They are active during the day and feed on a variety of plant material, including grasses, seeds, bulbs, and fruits. Understanding their behavior is crucial to effectively manage them.

Remove Attractants:

One way to prevent ground squirrels from becoming a nuisance is to remove any attractants on your property. This includes removing fallen fruits, berries, and seeds, as these can provide a food source for the squirrels. Additionally, keep your lawn well-maintained by regularly mowing it and removing any debris, which can create hiding places for the rodents.

Install Fencing:

Installing a sturdy fence around your property can be an effective way to keep ground squirrels out. Squirrels are adept climbers, so it is important to choose a fence that they cannot easily climb over or burrow under. A mesh or wire fence buried at least 12 inches below the ground can help prevent them from digging under the fence.

Use Repellents:

There are various repellents available on the market that can help deter ground squirrels from your property. These repellents work by emitting a scent or taste that is unpleasant to the squirrels, causing them to avoid the treated area. Look for repellents that are specifically designed for ground squirrels and follow the manufacturer's instructions for application.

Employ Trapping:

If the ground squirrel population on your property is particularly high, trapping may be necessary. Live traps can be used to capture the squirrels, allowing you to relocate them to a more suitable habitat away from your property. It is important to check your local regulations before trapping ground squirrels, as some jurisdictions may require a permit.

Seek Professional Help:

If you have tried various prevention methods but are still dealing with a ground squirrel problem, it may be time to seek professional help. Pest control specialists have the knowledge and experience to effectively manage ground squirrel populations and can offer tailored solutions for your specific situation.

In conclusion, preventing ground squirrels from becoming a nuisance or causing damage on your property in Iowa requires a combination of strategies. Understanding their behavior, removing attractants, installing fencing, using repellents, trapping when necessary, and seeking professional help can all contribute to effectively managing ground squirrel populations. By implementing these steps, you can enjoy a squirrel-free property and protect your plants and lawn from damage.

Frequently asked questions

There are a few different effective methods for killing ground squirrels in Iowa. One popular method is using trapping devices specifically designed for squirrels. These traps can be set near their burrows or along fences they commonly run on. Another effective method is the use of poison bait specifically designed for ground squirrels. These baits can be placed near their burrows or in areas where they frequently gather. Lastly, shooting them with a firearm is also an option for killing ground squirrels, but it is important to follow all local laws and regulations regarding firearms and hunting.

In Iowa, ground squirrels are considered a nuisance species and there are no specific restrictions on killing them on private property. However, it is important to note that firearms can only be discharged in certain areas and under specific conditions, so it is important to check with local authorities and follow all applicable laws and regulations. Additionally, if you are using poison bait, it is important to follow the instructions on the product label and use it in accordance with local laws and regulations.

Yes, there are alternative methods to killing ground squirrels in Iowa. One option is to use deterrents to discourage them from entering your property or specific areas. This could include using motion-activated sprinklers or noise-making devices to scare them away. Additionally, you can make your property less attractive to ground squirrels by removing or securing potential food sources, such as bird feeders or unsecured garbage cans. Another option is to hire a professional pest control company that specializes in wildlife removal to help you safely and humanely remove ground squirrels from your property.

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