Gophers and squirrels taking over Yokuts Park in Bakersfield

A viewer contacted 17 News, wanting to know what the city is doing about the problem.
BAKERSFIELD, CA - In a Contact 17 News investigation, Frank wants to know why the City of Bakersfield has allowed gophers to take over Yokuts Park.

We found that gophers aren't the only problem, squirrels are causing a ruckus as well.

When you are walking around Yokuts Park, it doesn't take long to notice all of the squirrels. They can be fun to watch, but the holes they dig are just waiting to snap your ankle.

As we start to see warmer weather and the foliage starts to wake up from a Winter sleep, gopher and squirrel populations take off like a rocket.

So to keep running children safe and the park grounds intact, Bakersfield has to limit the numbers of animals.

"It's not just the aesthetics. It truly can be an issue. You know, people trying to enjoy the park and have to navigate around squirrel's holes. We try to cover them up, but sometimes it does get very challenging," said Greg Cronk, Park Supervisor.

Methods the city has used in the past are no longer deemed safe to use at a public park, so they have been trying to come up with new ways.

"We are experimenting with contractors bringing in different devices. We use concussive devices that coving up into the burrow, it shocks the burrow and never to be seen again. And, we have also been looking into a pressurized gaseous device," said Cronk.

The pressurized gas device pumps carbon monoxide into the burrows to collapse them and abate the animals. And, the city is buying its own equipment so it will no longer have to pay contractors.

In past years when the Kern River was full of water, it pushed many of the squirrels and gophers from the once dry river bed into nearby parks.

The city estimates it costs taxpayers in the tens of thousands of dollars every year to fight the issue.
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Bakersfield, CA