Rodent Problems - Constructing a Bait Station
S&W Report / Summer / Fall 2000, Vol 20
One of the problems in establishing new plantations is the damage mice can do to young trees. Over the winter months, hidden from view by snow, voles (commonly known as field mice) can damage young trees by feeding on the roots and/or stem, often girdling the tree. If the damage is severe, trees will die from a lack of water and nutrients.

Several methods to minimize this type of damage are available to landowners. One method is to set up mouse bait stations in your plantations. A bait station can be made easily and only costs a few dollars. The materials (ABS plumbing pipe and cement) required are readily available from most local hardware stores, Home Depot or your local Canadian Tire store.

Bait Stations

To construct a bait station, you will need to acquire the following materials:

- 3 feet of 1½-inch ABS plastic pipe
- 1 ABS plastic T-fitting
- 1 ABS plastic cap
- 1 6-foot wooden or steel stake and
- ABS plastic clement
Three cuts are required - the vertical section is cut to 16 inches in length and the two extensions are cut to approximately six inches in length. The two extensions and the vertical section are then glued into the T-pipefitting, and a cap is placed over the vertical section to keep out moisture.

The station is set up on the surface of the ground and supported with a stake to keep it upright, as shown in the diagram in Figure #1. Remove the cap, fill the tube halfway with rodenticide and replace the cap. The stations should be used from late September to early spring. Caution - all stations should be labeled with a poison symbol to indicate there is a toxic substance inside, and stations should not be used in areas that are frequently visited by children.

Alternatives:

Although the use of bait stations can be effective, there are alternate methods you may want to consider using to control the vole population in your plantations. These methods include:
- Removal of habitat - eliminating the grass cover during the growing season will discourage mice from inhabiting your plantations;
- Alternate source of food - by supplying an alternative food source the voles may be discouraged from feeding on your seedlings;
- Tree shelters and guards - applying tree guards (spiral plastic tubes) around the stem of the trees will protect the tree from voles; and
- Use repellents - bitter and unpleasant tasting substances can be applied to the stems of young trees to discourage voles from girdling the stem.
These alternate options are further explored in the 1999 Spring/Summer (Volume 15) edition of the S&W Report and in the extension note entitled Protecting Trees From Vole Damage. A copy of the extension note is available from the LandOwner Resource Centre by calling (613) 692-2390 or by visiting their Web site .

Girdling - the complete severing of the bark and underlying tissues around the stem of a tree. The removal of the bark and cambium prevents the flow of carbohydrates to the tree's root system and conversely stops the flow of water and nutrients from the tree's root system.
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