Agricultural mammalian nuisances

Learn what you can do to control damage to property and crops caused by gophers, mice, moles, porcupines, rabbits and skunks.


Small woodland animals may be cute to look at but they can cause much damage to crops, livestock, buildings and equipment if not controlled properly. Find out more about most common nuisance mammals in Alberta and what can be done to prevent them from causing damage.

Mice control

There is no way of placing a monetary value on human suffering and damage caused by mice. The greatest loss is probably not what mice eat, but what is wasted, contaminated or destroyed. They also carry disease which impacts public health.

Mice are a large group of mammals, with more than 130 species found worldwide. In Alberta, there are seven species of mice and 12 species of voles.

The most troublesome and economically important of the species found in Alberta are the house mouse, the whitefooted mouse and the meadow vole (commonly called field mouse).

Pocket gophers and ground squirrels

Pocket gophers (moles) and ground squirrels can cause considerable damage to garden and crops by feeding on roots and vegetation.

Pocket gophers and ground squirrels require different control methods. Read the following manuals for extensive detail on how to manage these pests.


Most porcupine damage occurs during the winter when woody plants become a staple diet. In summer, porcupines can damage fruits, vegetables and succulent plants.

Occasionally, porcupines find buildings, open air sheds and other wooden structures where they can seriously damage beams and other support structures with their gnawing.

Rabbit and hares

Orchards, nurseries, shelterbelts and gardens can suffer loss and damage because of rabbits and hares. Most damage occurs from late fall until early spring when extreme weather conditions limit the available food supply.

During the winter when green vegetation is unavailable, rabbits will change to browsing on buds, bark and small twigs. Plant damage can also be extensive during periods of drought or when rabbit and hare populations are high.


People generally relate skunks to the foul-smelling, defensive spray they discharge when scared or threatened. In many parts of North America, skunks are the major carriers of rabies.

Skunks eat many harmful insects and rodents but also prey on eggs and young of waterfowl and other ground nesting birds. They sometimes cause problems in bee yards by feeding on bees as they emerge from the hive. Skunks also occasionally prey on farm poultry and eggs.