back to article US parkies in 'burrow-buster' marmot detonation campaign

Senior parkies in the American city of Spokane are facing a barrage of criticism over their decision to exterminate troublesome tree-noshing squirrels by blowing up their burrows using fuel-air "bunker buster" type explosives. It seems that Spokane's Finch Arboretum, well thought of among park aficionados, faces an escalating …


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  1. Alasdair Russell

    Watching too many 80s Movies

    Is it just me, or does it sound like they may have been watching Caddyshack after a late night session and had a "great" idea at the end?

  2. E

    Alt soln

    Perhaps they could introduce some predators instead?

  3. pc

    Let me be the first..

    To point out that the guys at already made the Caddyshack reference when they linked to this article on Tuesday 14th:

    Carl Spackler lives indeed!

  4. coozoe
    Thumb Down

    Why not reduce the human population?

    The squirrels would normally be managed by other wildlife who are not allowed in the park. Get all the humans out, and let the area go natural. Nature knows what to do, unlike the mutant idiots who call themselves human.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    Is it just me, or do I faintly recall something like this used in Caddyshack to devastating consequences, but not to the gophers.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Their case would have more credibility

    If they hadn't made a video with a jolly lite-entertainment backing track, and the sounds of the rangers cackling with glee.

    Basically, I think they are enjoying it too much.

  7. breakfast Silver badge

    Does it work for rabbits too?

    It seems to me that flaming explosive instadeath is probably one of the most humane ways of killing these little guys. Certainly faster than gas or disease and less bitey than predators. Seems like a pretty good solution.

    And it involves explosions. Not as awesome as a fly-killing laser, but still a generally good idea.

  8. tony booth
    Thumb Up

    time for war

    get some mink in, they will butcher the cute cuddly squirrels for fun

  9. Gerard Allwein


    On this side of the pond, we'd call them ground hogs or woodchucks. They can be naughty little critters and very industrious.

  10. Efros

    Nuke em!

    Forget the Air fuel explosive go straight to the ultimate rodenterminator.


  11. Anonymous Coward

    re Alt soln

    About 100 rattle snakes should do it.

  12. JP Sistenich

    Reminds me of the time...

    when they tried to blow up that whale.

  13. fishman

    Do they

    Do they taste like chicken?

  14. Peter Ford

    To quote the squirrel hugger...

    "That borders on cruelty,"

    But only *borders* on cruelty, so perfectly OK then!

    Would sending terriers into the burrows to get the wee beasties be just over the border?

    How about laying itching powder down around the burrow entrances?

  15. Anonymous John

    Think of it as pre-cooked roadkill.

    "were willing to ethnically cleanse them""


  16. Anonymous Coward

    That borders on cruelty

    Yes, borders on. It ISN'T cruel to give the pesky little varmints exactly what they need the most.


  17. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)


    A plan with no drawbacks!

  18. Bassey

    Re: coozoe

    > Get all the humans out, and let the area go natural

    Don't know what particular lab you were grown in coozoe but this particular human is 100% natural thanks very much!

  19. Jonathan

    HA HA HA HA!

    Thank you El Reg, this read made my day.

  20. Dalen
    Black Helicopters

    Nuke the site from orbit.

    It's the only way to be sure.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    not mink please...

    Don't even think about releasing mink to control anything. They will prey on everything. Birds, shrews, frogs, neighbours' pet rabbits etc will be eradicated in a couple of seasons. And controlling mink when they can decamp to people's gardens is in a whole different league from sorting out a few hundred instances of Chip'n Dale.

  22. Nigel


    I guess they could use ferrets or terriers, assuming these critters are rabbit-sized. If I were a marmot I think I'd prefer being blown up suddenly without warning, to being torn to bits in a "natural" manner by a flesh-eating predator.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    "A plan with no drawbacks!"


    Only small drawbacks surely... I mean, when the Mink population gets out of hand we just need to release some... erm, what preys on Mink? Lions? Yes! We release a whole death squad of Lions into the park and surrounding environs.

    As the Cold War taught us, the best way to solve any problem is simply uncontrolled escalation.

  24. RW

    Better the Rodenator than bubonic plague

    Western America is awash in burrowing rodents. Rangers and farmers don't like them because of their burrowing propensities, and in the good old days, would transport sick and ailing animals from one colony to another as a form of biological warfare. The disease was often bubonic plague, which is now endemic the world over wherever you have a population of burrowing rodents. (The original site of bubonic plague was in the eastern Himalaya, whence it was carried to the steppes of northern Eurasia by returning military expeditions of the Mongols and spread therefrom via burrowing rodents.)

    When you read of an animal population suddenly exploding as the one in Spokane is, you can conclude that the normal ecological checks and balances have been upset. I can't say if the arboretum offers some specially congenial features to these squirrels, or if it's because the same goddamn farmers and ranchers have eradicated the squirrels' natural predators: avian raptors and assorted carnivores.

    An outburst of squirrels in a normal woodland is no great shakes: one tree is much like another. But in an arboretum where each and every tree is a valued specimen, the depredations of these critters can cause intolerable damage.

    Wikipedia has a good, though short, article on Ground Squirrels, for those interested in adorning their vocabularies with some fancy new words. Sciurid pie, anyone?

  25. Goatan


    I'd prefer Stoats, they have a made hypnotic dance for killing bunnies. Might work for ground squirrels.

  26. Andy Walton

    @ Evil Graham

    "Basically, I think they are enjoying it too much."

    Reminds me of a line from either futurama or the simpsons:

    "If it's fun it's not environmentalism"

  27. Doug Sharp

    Marmot and Toast

    Well you either love them or hate them.

  28. Anonymous Coward


    Yeah, let's rather get some mink in there to tear the squirrels apart limb from limb and eat them alive - it's *so* so much kinder and gentler than the instantaneous death-by-concussion technique that is currently being used.


  29. John Uhercik

    It could be worse.

    I suppose it's a bit safer than hiring these people to "manage" the problem...

    Flames, because there is no troll icon.

  30. Joe H.

    Dangerous if not done correctly

    Some guys in Canada started a huge grass fire with propane and oxygen trying to eliminate varmints like at the end of Caddyshack.

    Propane, Oxygen and an ignition source, what could go wrong?

  31. anarchic-teapot

    @ Evil Graham

    Actually it looks like some form of Extreme Fart-Lighting. Where are the startled rodents being summarily expelled from their burrows at rocket speed, straight into orbit?

  32. coozoe

    Bassey is a bit gassey

    Bassey - You mean you were evolved with no chemicals, medicines, or education? You have lived off the land then. How did you get a computer, Mr. Natural?

  33. Anonymous Coward


    WANT ONE, I have a slight problem with grey squirrels killing nursery plants, however I have since added a lurcher to the canine population of our land and the squirrel problem is much reduced, as a bonus some days I don't even have to feed the hounds

  34. Bill Cumming

    That reminds me...

    I've bought Caddyshack on DVD a while ago. Think I'll watch it tonight...

  35. Anonymous Coward

    So this is how WW III starts

    History will record that it all began on the fateful day when the squirrel-lovers squared off against the tree-huggers. Throw in a few crazy Islamists and Neville Chamberlain waving a piece of paper and you've got yourself the makings of a future History Channel documentary.

  36. drewsup

    Rodents must die!

    I lived out west for awhile, and I assure you, these pesky varmints are nothing but trouble. About the size of a small Guinea pig, the tear up everything around them. We affectionately called them whistle pigs, as per the whistling noise they make ALL THE TIME. It was great fun to trap them in 2 1/2 piping that was waiting to be laid, stick an M-80 in one end and block it off. Instant rodent cannon!

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rodex 6000

    It's a lot cheaper for these toys in the US (I'm trying to save up for the Rodex 6000 so i can have some fun!!!):

  38. GreyWolf

    Been there, done that...

    In the last house, I suffered (a) regular mole incursions to my lawn (b) do-gooder neighbours, who had opinions that were not based on actually having to deal with the moles.

    I tried all sorts of stuff including various "humane" solutions, most of which caused some moles to die of laughter, and the rest to move in on me.

    What worked in the end: have you discovered rook scarers? Out in the countryside, us locals can still buy serious bangers intended to emulate a 12-bore shotgun sound. (You poor nannied townies of course can't be trusted with toy firecrackers on fireworks night.)

    Find a mole run (a series of mole hills in a more-or-less straight line). Dig a mole trap (scissors-type preferably) into the middle one, observing precautions against tainting with human smell. Then dig into both end hills, put a rook scarer into the tunnel at each end, fire them off (cover your ears if you want to be able to hear afterwards). This deafens the mole (who then can't find food) - he then blunders about and stumbles into the trap and gets killed.

    Result: 6 dead moles in first week of this method, and a number of complaints from do-gooder neighbours brushed off.

  39. Anonymous Coward


    When I die I hope I'm killed by propane, I tell you what.

  40. CeeTee
    Dead Vulture

    This is America, right?

    So shoot the buggers! Wait until they stick their cute little heads above the ground, and what's the expression? Oh yes, "pop a cap in their ass".

    A little further north, we have a huge surfeit of gophers - I guess they're a similar hamimule. A very popular local passtime is "plinking" gophers - .22 rifles kept in the truck for precisely that purpose. OK, they might not like it in city parks, but fun is more important than safety, ain't it?

  41. coozoe
    Thumb Up

    Rodents have the same rights as human animals

    Rodents must die! I'd enjoy seeing that trick, but with a sewer pipe. You know, one large enough to fit you into it.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    re: Video

    The video would have been more entertaining

    with Verdi's Anvil Chorus as the soundtrack.

  43. Graham Marsden

    Is it obligatory to yell...

    ... Fire In The Hole!

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I used one of these last year to collapse rat burrows, the video really doesn't do the sound justice, it really does make the earth move darlin'!

    Oh, and to the guy who mentioned flames and burning... You should get none of this. The idea is to have a perfect explosive gas:oxygen ratio and just a massive shock wave to collapse the burrows.

  45. Anonymous Coward

    You want a title, OK, here it is: Richard Gere

    Lame video! I sort of expected the little flaming corpses to be thrown out from the exploding holes.

    "Little flaming corpses" - what would Dave Barry say?

  46. Jon Minhinnick

    What borders on cruelty... the music that accompanies the video.

    Flame icon, natch.

  47. Adam Foxton

    @Andy Walton: It was Futurama.

    Also, this is a freakin' awesome method of rodent control. It's quick, pretty painless if done correctly, relatively clean and safe.ish. To the humans.

    The only way it could be made better is with AC's uncontrolled escalation idea. Either that or we run the risk of creating a race of flame-retardant SuperMarmots by only leaving the more flame-retardant members of the species.

  48. Dave

    Theres only one way to get rid of a mole.. Blow its bloody head off!

    For those who have never experienced the wit of a certain Jasper Carrott, I give you this youtube link

  49. PT

    No mercy

    When they're finished in Spokane, they can come and sort out my property in Las Vegas. I've been battling against these improbably cute pests for years without success, as their numbers are constantly replenished from a rodent city on an inaccessible empty lot across the street. They're in my roof, under my foundations, and have a veritable apartment complex under my front garden. Every so often a mature plant keels over dead and I find all its roots have been eaten. They've even killed a tree. Gassing and flooding doesn't seem to bother them, and poison bait takes a bigger toll on the local birds. Somebody needs to develop a chipmunk myxomatosis.

  50. Captain DaFt

    @ fishman

    Actually, they taste like pork. (Groundhog, whistlepig, they get these names for a reason)

    Mine's the one with the bottle of brown sauce in the pocket, because I never met a varmint I didn't like, well done!

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Waiting for the first news story

    Involving an airliner crash caused by one of its turbines ingesting a low-flying marmot.

  52. Anonymous Coward


    Do what my father did to the rats living in the old rabbit burrows on the farm. Block up as many holes as you can find, back a truck up to one hole, connect the exhaust to the burrow with a hose and leave the engine running for a few hours. Most gassing techniques are "one brief hit" affairs which offer a reasonable chance of escape. If the area is HUGE then several trucks dotted around should do the job. When my dad used his solution they were finding dead and dying rats over a mile away from where the truck was.

  53. Peter Fielden-Weston

    Now Mr Marmot...

    ... can ask Mrs Marmot "Did the Earth move for _you_ honey?"

    ...I know, Iknow. Mines the one with the leaves sticking to the back.

  54. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    One word.


    With lasers on their heads.

    OK, that's 6 words. Sharkswithlasersontheirheads. That's what they need.

  55. Anonymous Coward

    Reminds me of the Irish mole killer

    he buried the moles alive to kill them. Surely collapsing a burrow on a burrow making animal is pretty stupid ? Yes, they might get catch in the initial blast but those that don't....

    And as for using mink - snip them before releasing them. That way they won't reproduce, killing all in their path (the Aussies should really have done that with the Cane Toad but hindsight and all that...)

  56. Anonymous Coward

    Friggin sharks with lasers, cracking idea!

    This is a superb story, nothing more humane than killing other animals, hey we've been doing it for Milena :)

  57. TeeCee Gold badge


    <--------- Obvious benefit here.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    flood the tunnels

    and send in the friking sharks with lasers strapped to their heads. That'll sort them out.

  59. Erik Olafsen
    Paris Hilton


    I thought a "Bunker-buster" bomb, was a bomb, that could penetrate (OooH!) earth and reinforced concrete, often due to a hardened casing, and other types with shaped charges in the tip to ease (Suit YOU!) the passage through solid material.

    The explosive charge of oxygen and propane, has more in common with the air/fuel type bomb, such as the "Daisy Cutter" and suchlike. Or at least, I think so, I have been wrong before, you know.

    Also, with this method of eradicating bothersome rodents, do we need to worry about a resistant population building up? I mean: An explosion-resistant rodent, sounds like a terrifying thing, can I be the first to .. root-eating overlords blah blah.

    Paris, errr... anyway: Paris!

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    call the Air Force and use napalm...

  61. Mart


    The woot in the video gives away why they chose this method over more-WWF-approved methods, Americans love blowing the shit outta stuff!

  62. Arnold Layne

    Somebody has to say it...

    Hey, nice marmot!

  63. Graham Butler

    Firey gas, rodents, holes...

    Only one thing for it...


  64. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    where do I begin?

    Oh sure, we put a man on the moon BEFORE we put a squirrel into orbit? But seriously, I think this is sheer genius, however, this only raises the stakes in the ever escalating battle between animals and human kind. Squirrels aren't the threat, it's the cows, deer, moose and other large herd animals that seem to just drop out of nowhere and kill relatively innocent people. Squirrels, moles and other small rodents are only the "intel". We need to be focusing on the bigger animals.

  65. Taters
    Paris Hilton

    Not sure

    I'm not sure what made my day better, the article in itself. or reading the comments...

    as an american who loves to blow the hell out of things, i am completely on board with this idea, and then using the sharks/lasers afterwards to get the survivors.

    I just wonder what would happen if one of the squirrels got a hold of one of the lasers...

    Paris, only because she wants the mink coats after they get done the "humane" killing by ripping apart the poor animals :)

    you watch, someone will say she's in PETA or something, well, i'm not going to read the comments after i comment, so say what you want :)

  66. jake Silver badge

    We use ...

    We use Whippets. The redtail hawks line up to clear off the bodies when we're varminting.

    In the past, I've used my Oxyacetylene torch, unlit, & a length of fuse, causing a similar effect to the Parks folks in Spokane. As a small child, I used my .22 to keep the same critters out of the family veggie patch, for 25 cents a head. I had to pay for my own ammo out of the proceeds ... Needless to say, after the economics lesson at such an early age, today I do my own books ...

    To the folks calling these things groundhogs, whistlepigs, moles, etc. ... They aren't. They are ground squirrels. Kinda like grey squirrels, only apparently afraid of heights. Rats with fuzzy tails. Totally evil little buggers whose main goal in life seems to be undermining damned near everything with a foundation, and eating or gnawing on everything else connected to the earth, and then peeing & crapping on what's left. If they all went away tomorrow, I'd party.

  67. Nick
    Thumb Up


    Mythbusters tested the Caddyshack myth that an underground explosion would knock the golfball into the goal or whatever they call that little hole. When Gasoline didn't work, they tried C4. Still didn't work :)

    But made a nice big boom, so its all good.

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