Agricultural Pest Management

Mountain View County is prime agricultural land for a variety of ag production activities. A number of agricultural pests and nuisances exist within Mountain View County. Below is a selection of pest and nuisances common to agriculture production:

For more information, contact the County's Ag Services Department at 403-335-3311 during regular office hours (8 AM to 4 PM, weekdays) or email

Richardson's ground squirrel commonly known as "gophers". There are several control options available to Mountain View County residents. The Richardson's ground squirrel is a burrowing rodent that spends most of its life underground, hibernating for up to eight months of the year. Natural mortality among Richardson's ground squirrels is quite high, particularly in males. As a result, the sex ratio among adults is about four females for each male. Females live about four years (maximum six), on average, while males usually live only one year (maximum two to three).

Not all solutions offered will be suited to the scope of the infestation, and may not be economically feasible in some situations.

Cultural Control

Cultural control of ground squirrels has shown limited success. Some research has been conducted on the effect of tall vegetation on ground squirrel populations and movements. The data, while limited, indicates that squirrels may move out of tall vegetation stands to more open grass fields. This would indicate that overgrazing could intensify an existing problem. Once ground squirrels have been removed from a crop area, re-invasion can be substantially slowed by destroying their old burrow systems through deep tillage.

Chemical Control

Chemical Control options are the most widely used and likely will be the most cost effective for large infestations. The two most common acute poisons registered for ground squirrels are Strychnine alkaloids and Anticoagulants. Strychnine causes death by entering the blood stream and interfering with the central nervous system, resulting in convulsions and eventually respiratory failure. Anticoagulants interfere with the clotting mechanism of the blood and cause death from internal bleeding three to four days after the bait is consumed. Anticoagulants (Rozol) may require more than one treatment to be effective.

In Canada Ready To Use (RTU) Strychnine baits are legally bound by a maximum concentration of 0.4%. Rumors often circulate about higher concentration baits, but they do not exist. There is also much debate over (fresh mixed) "wet" and dry baits. Chemically the concentrations are identical. Wet baits are intended to be prepared and used within one week. Dry baits have a wider application window because they will not mold if stored for extended periods. If the ground squirrels consume either bait, the effectiveness will be identical. 2% Liquid strychnine is also available from time to time under an Emergency Use Registration from the PMRA. In 2013 Mountain View County will have 2% liquid available for agricultural use. When 2% liquid is mixed with grain the prepared bait becomes a 0.4% RTU product. The grain physically can not absorb more liquid, and therefore it is a myth that mixing strychnine yourself will create a more chemically concentrated end product.

Chemical baits are most effective when applied early in the season. Once an alternate food source has been established ground squirrel consumption of bait will be limited. Repeated baiting with the same bait during the same year is generally unsuccessful. Baiting should be done thoroughly and correctly the first time. Always carefully read and follow all label directions for products used.


RoCon® was registered in recent years as a fumigant. It is essentially a mustard concentrate soap-based foaming agent that asphyxiates rodents when applied in the burrow. It contains no toxic chemicals and therefore is safe for residential/urban areas where control measures are limited. Further detail can be found on their website at

Shooting has proven to be perhaps the most effective method of control. When done safely and legally it is the most assured system for success.

Anhydrous Ammonia - While approved for use there are a lot of Operator safety issues to consider. Gas exploding devices using propane or acetylene have not proven to be safe, reliable or effective. Studies have shown these devices reduced ground squirrel populations by only 40 per cent and did so at a very high cost.

Alberta's only species of pocket gopher - the northern pocket gopher - varies in size from 15-25 centimetres (six to ten inches) and can weigh from 94 to 104 grams. Their fur is fine and soft, usually steel gray in colour on their back and slightly lighter on their belly. 

Mountain View County is offering an incentive of $1.00 per Northern Pocket Gopher tail for a minimum of 50 tails to a maximum of 100 tails.

Eligibility as per Policy & Procedure #6307:

•Only one submission per applicant per year will be accepted.

•Youth Applicant: Any youth applicant who has trapped Northern Pocket Gophers within the County will be accepted.

•Adult Applicant: One submission per County resident for Northern Pocket Gophers trapped within the County will be accepted.

•The entire tail needs to be of good quality and preferably frozen, for identification purposes. If a tail cannot be identified as a Northern Pocket Gopher, it will not be eligible for the incentive payment.

•Only Northern Pocket Gophers trapped on Mountain View County Agricultural Lands shall be eligible under this Policy. The legal land location of where the pocket gophers were trapped must be provided to receive the incentive.

Payment will be by cheque only and will take a minimum 30 days to process. Program ends once the 50 submissions have been accepted. The program will be a first come first serve basis and there will be no registration ahead of time. Please submit your tails as soon as possible to ensure funds are still available.

Northern Pocket Gopher Incentive Program - Application Form

Alberta is a rat-free province, and all suspected rat sightings must be reported to the Agricultural Fieldman at the County office at 403-335-3311 ext 184 or Upon receiving a suspected sighting Agriculture staff will investigate to determine if Norway Rats or other species from the genus rattus are present. To-date Mountain View County has never found a confirmed rat infestation. Muskrats and Northern Pocket Gophers are the most common species mistaken for rats.

Below are pictures of a Muskrat and Norway Rat for comparison.

Norway rat(front) Muskrat(back)

Norway Rat (front) Muskrat (back)

Norway rat(left) Muskrat(right)

Norway Rat (left) Muskrat (right)

Below are pictures of a Northern Pocket Gopher.

Northern Pocket Gopher

Northern Pocket Gopher


Northern Pocket Gopher

Click picture to view larger image

For more information on rats, to test your rat knowledge or to review the history of rat control in Alberta please click to visit the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Rat Information website.

Coyotes look like a cross between a fox and a small collie or German shepherd and weigh between 9 and 14 kilograms. They have a narrow nose, large ears and a bushy tail they hold low when running. Coyotes are highly curious, intelligent and adaptable. Coyotes primarily feed on rabbits, mice and squirrels, but are considered a nuisance to agricultural producers in Alberta.

Mountain View County does not have a bounty on coyotes, however, the County does offer a Coyote Predation Management program, which allows for the distribution of restricted toxicants in cases of confirmed predation. The overall goal of the program is to eliminate predatory coyotes, but not a general reduction in population, therefore only cases with confirmed coyote predation of livestock are eligible for use of toxicants.

Situations involving pets or nuisance coyotes are not eligible for this program. All other predation cases such as cougar, wolf, and bear are handled by Alberta Sustainable Resource Development. The compensation program for livestock losses of Coyote Predation operated by Sustainable Resource Development no longer exists.

For more information or to report a suspected case of predation contact Ag Services at the County office at 403-335-3311 or

Wild boar are considered to be ‘at large.’ In Alberta, wild boar are an invasive species and a provincially regulated agricultural pest when at large. They can damage property, agricultural crops, pastures and the environment, and are known to endanger people and animals.

Image courtesy Alberta Agriculture, Forestry & Rural Economic Development

Under the Agricultural Pests Act and Pest and Nuisance Control Regulation, landowners are required to control or destroy pests and prevent them from becoming established on their land. In addition, you can help by learning to recognize signs of their activity, and reporting sightings of wild boar at large.

Wild Boars can be identified by their dark brown or black coat and coarse light hair on the head and mane. The Wild Boar's tail is straight, the ears are hairy and erect. They have a larger head and longer snout than domestic hogs.

If you see a Wild Boar at large within Mountain View County please contact the Agriculture Department at 403-335-3311 or

Clubroot is a serious soil-borne disease of field crops such as canola and mustard but also of vegetable crops such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, turnip and many other plants in the Brassicaceae family. Clubroot was declared a pest in the Alberta's Agricultural Pests Act in 2007. Ten fields have been found within Mountain View County, north of Olds, east of Carstairs and east of Cremona, around Didsbury and in the southeast corner.

Clubroot is a fungus that can not multiply without a living host. It infects the roots of the plant and as it continues to multiply within the root it causes the root tissues to swell. This leads to the formation of galls which are characteristic of Clubroot. The galls are quickly decayed by soil microbes, leaving millions of resting fungal spores in the soil. These resting spores are extremely long lived, with a half-life of about 4 years, but they can survive in soil for up to 20 years. Severely infected roots of canola cannot transport sufficient water and nutrients to support the plant. Research has shown the percentage of infected plants will result in half of that percentage in yield loss, for example if 20% of the plants are infected there will be a 10% yield loss.

Growers and any land users such as surveyors, seismic operators, recreationalists, etc., need to be vigilant and diligent in removing potentially contaminated soil from equipment prior to leaving fields, to prevent the introduction of Clubroot to clean fields. Equipment coming from Clubroot infected areas should further be disinfected with a 1-2% bleach solution.

Canola rotations should be 1 in 4 to prevent propagation of potentially introduced spores. The extended rotation away from canola must also include diligent control of host species susceptible to Clubroot including volunteer canola and weeds in the Brassicaceae family.

Use direct seeding and other soil conservation practices to reduce erosion. Reducing the amount of tillage will reduce the spread of the spores within the field and to other fields. Resting spores may also readily move in soil transported by wind or water erosion. Avoid the use of straw, hay or green feed, silage and manure from infested or suspicious areas. Clubroot spores may survive through the digestive tracts of livestock.

Please view the control measures specified in the Alberta Clubroot Management Plan, which are the minimum standard that is to be applied in all municipalities across the province. The Mountain View County Clubroot (Plasmodiophora brassicae) Management policy and procedure became effective March 26, 2007 and was updated as of April 2019.

For a map of the Clubroot infested areas please see the Government of Albert Agriculture and Rural Development link for Clubroot Infested Areas in Alberta. Mountain View County has received test results from our annual surveying confirming Clubroot within the County. 

Mountain View County is trying to protect its canola producers from Clubroot with our Equipment Cleaning Requirements Prior to Municipal Entry policy. This Policy States:

Mountain View County requires that any equipment brought in from outside the County be cleaned and free of soil and debris prior to entry. Pressure washing equipment will be adequate to achieve this in most circumstances. If the equipment is coming from a municipality known to be infected with Clubroot, the equipment should be further disinfected to minimize any potential liability concerns. 

Equipment moving between projects within the County should be free of soil and further disinfected with a 1-2% active ingredient bleach solution if coming from a known Clubroot infected area or unless specified by the landowner.

It is important to keep in mind that equipment sanitation serves many purposes.  Proper sanitation procedures will assist in preventing the spread of invasive species, Clubroot and other soil borne diseases.

Further information on cleaning equipment can be found on Alberta Agriculture's Website under the title "Best Management Practices - Equipment Sanitation"

These Requirements apply to everyone involved in transporting equipment. Including but not limited to, Agriculture, Oil and Gas Industry, Utility companies, Private Contractors and Municipal Equipment.

For more information on management please see the Government of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development link for Clubroot Disease of Canola and Mustard.

Fusarium Graminearum is a seed borne pathogen and infected seed or feed grain represents the greatest risk of introducing Fusarium Graminearum in quantities sufficient to cause disease development.  Fusarium Graminearum has recently been removed from the Alberta Pest Act, however producers should maintain management strategies to prevent Fusarium Graminearum as it can still be a detrimental disease. 

For more information visit the Government of Alberta website for Fusarium Head Blight of Barley and Wheat and the Alberta Fusarium graminearum Management Plan.

Fall is the time of year for animals to start preparing for winter. With high numbers of deer, elk and moose in many areas of the province, agricultural producers are reminded to take steps to prevent damage to stored hay and feed.

Producers can reduce or eliminate ungulate damage over the winter with these preventative measures.

  • Move bales from the field to a feed yard or protected storage area.
  • Use straw bales as a protective barrier for feed stores.
  • Fencing can be more effective if bales are stacked two tiers high.
  • Use fencing or place posts before freeze up to prepare permanent stack-yard sites.
  • Store grain only in protective storage bins.
  • Monitor stored feed and promptly chase ungulates from feed stores.

The Fish and Wildlife Division of Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, through the Ungulate Damage Prevention Program, offers producers advice and assistance to prevent ungulates from spoiling stored feed and unharvested crops.

The Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC), through the Wildlife Damage Compensation for Excreta Contaminated Crops, Stacked Hay, and Stored Silage programs, provides financial compensation to producers who have consulted Fish and Wildlife, and followed the advice given by the officer. For Further information click the link to be brought to the Alberta Environment and Parks website.

Learn more about using electric fencing to protect your stored hay, visit the Alberta Environment and Parks website.

Allowing access for hunting on your land can also reduce damage caused by deer and elk. Please refer to the Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations for further details.

Please click the link to view the Prevent Ungulate Damage tips document.

The Agricultural Services Department also assists Alberta Agriculture in many of their disease and insect pest monitoring programs. We have participated in diamondback moth, bertha armyworms, pea leaf weevil, wheat midge and grasshopper count surveys, as well as sampling for clubroot and fusarium.

Please click the following links to view the results of the surveys on the Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development Alberta Insect Pest Monitoring Network website. Many of the survey results are used to create a forecast map for the following year based on this year's populations.

If you are interested in participating in any of surveys or for further information please contact the Agricultural Department at 403-335-3311.