Reinstate the Gopher Rebate Program

Res #: 2-19M
Number: 2
Year: 2019
Midterm: Yes
Expired: No
Responses Received: Yes
Departments: Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture

WHEREAS the Richardson’s Ground Squirrel (gopher) has increased to an unmanageable population;

WHEREAS the gophers are overtaking pasture, forage and farmland causing hardship to landowners;

WHEREAS strychnine is the most effective way to manage the overpopulation of gophers;

WHEREAS the expense of strychnine is very high and can cause financial burden to purchase the amounts required for gopher control management;

BE IT RESOLVED that SARM continue to lobby the Pest Management Regulatory Agency to allow the use of strychnine;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that SARM lobby the Ministry of Agriculture to reinstate the Gopher Rebate Program from 2007 to offer rebates of fifty percent to landowners and rural municipalities who purchase strychnine to control the Richardson’s Ground Squirrel.

Responses From: The Ministry of Agriculture

December 11, 2019

Our Government is aware of issues producers are facing in dealing with Richardson’s Ground Squirrel and is closely monitoring the situation. We are also aware that the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) of Health Canada has issued a proposed decision regarding the deregistration of strychnine for ground squirrel control. We believe that strychnine is the most effective ground squirrel control tool currently available.

We are working with the PMRA to provide information to address their concerns regarding the use of two per cent liquid strychnine concentrate. We conducted a research study in the Rural Municipality (RM) of Maple Creek to generate information the PMRA was lacking regarding efficacy and non-target effects of the product. We greatly appreciate the RM of Maple Creek’s collaboration on this work. Results of this study have been submitted to the PMRA and will be included as part of the review process to influence the final decision.

The Ministry also conducts the Richardson’s Ground Squirrel Stewardship Program to maintain the availability of strychnine to Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers. As part of this program, Ministry staff visit and inspect locations of producers who have purchased and used strychnine.

In the past, there was a rebate program for recognized gopher control options. That rebate program was discontinued in 2015 due to lack of uptake. Our Government is not planning to introduce a similar rebate program. Severity of the Richardson Ground Squirrel problem is limited to a region in the southwest corner of the province. There are Crop Insurance programs available to help offset losses experienced by producers in these areas.

We will continue to monitor the issue and work with our federal counterparts to secure continued access to effective ground squirrel control options.

David Marit – Minister of Agriculture