Trapping is a safe and effective method for controlling pocket gophers. Several types and brands of gopher traps are available. The most common type is a two-pronged, pincher trap such as the Macabee, Cinch, or Gophinator, which the gopher triggers when it pushes against a flat, vertical pan. Another popular type is the choker-style box trap.
To set traps, locate the main tunnel with a probe, as described above. Use a shovel or garden trowel to open the tunnel wide enough to set traps in pairs facing opposite directions. Placing traps with their openings facing in opposite directions means you will be able to intercept a gopher coming from either end of the burrow. The box trap is easier to use if you've never set gopher traps before, but setting it requires more surface excavation than if you are using the pincer-type traps, an important consideration in lawns and some gardens. However, box traps can be especially useful when the diameter of the gopher's main tunnel is smaller than 3 inches, because in order to use the pincer-type traps, you will need to enlarge small tunnels to accommodate them. This can add time to the trapping process.
It isn't necessary to bait a gopher trap, although some claim baiting might give better results. You can use lettuce, carrots, apples, alfalfa greens, or peanut butter as bait. Place the bait at the back of a box trap behind the wire trigger or behind the flat pan of a pincer-type trap. Wire your traps to stakes so you can easily retrieve them from the burrow.
After setting the traps, you can exclude light from the burrow by covering the opening with dirt clods, sod, canvas or landscape cloth, cardboard, or plywood. You can sift fine soil around the edges of these covers to ensure a light-tight seal. Alternatively, you can leave the trap-sets uncovered, thereby encouraging gophers to visit these trap sites as they seek out these openings to plug; gophers do not like open systems.
The influence on capture success of covering versus uncovering trap-sets is unclear, although current data suggests there might be little difference. Leaving trap-sets uncovered will allow you to set traps more quickly and check them more easily. However, you always should cover sets when using box traps, since gophers likely will plug tunnels before hitting the trigger wire of these traps if you leave them uncovered.
Check traps often and reset when necessary. If you haven't captured a gopher within 2 days, reset the traps in a different location.