Serving Montana Agriculture and growing prosperity under the Big Sky

Vertebrate Pests

Vertebrate Pests

Ground Squirrel
Richardson's Ground Squirrel,
a common vertebrate pest
in Montana

The Montana Department of Agriculture's Vertebrate Pest Program provides the agricultural community and the general public with information on the management and control of many vertebrate species. These are animals that sometimes cause damage to agricultural crops, yards, and gardens. Department specialists are available to provide information and demonstrations of management techniques.

Montana Vertebrate Pest Program Seeks Study Sites for Ground Squirrel Research

The Montana Department of Agriculture’s Vertebrate Pest Program is looking for multiple state study sites with a known abundance of Richardson’s and/or Columbian ground squirrels to evaluate the efficacy of a diphacinone-based rodenticide.

Research locations will participate on a voluntary basis and should be at least 20 acres in size. Sites within 50 miles of Bozeman and/or Lewistown are of particular interest. To learn more, contact Stephen M. Vantassel, Vertebrate Pest Specialist, at 406-538-3004 or

In-Person Demonstrations

Requests for presentations to groups are encouraged. The program format is usually in the form of slides and display of vertebrate pest control materials. Programs can be individualized to address problems and questions of local concern. Individuals requesting programs are encouraged to suggest topic areas of greatest interest to the people likely to attend.

Field Demonstrations

In field, hands-on field demonstrations of rodent control methods need to be scheduled during optimum control periods for each rodent species. Ground squirrels - spring to early summer; pocket gophers - spring, early summer, and fall; and prairie dogs - late summer to early fall.

Depending on the specialist's schedule, some programs and demonstrations can be arranged on short notice. For best results, requests should be made at least 3-4 weeks in advance. To conserve travel and time, it is helpful if counties in an area coordinate training to make effective use of the specialist's time.

Pocket Gopher dirt mounds
Pocket Gopher mounds
in Montana, Photo by
Stephen Vantassel.

Specific Training for Applicator Licensing

  • M-44 (Sodium Cyanide) - Coyote Control

Special Problems

Specialists are available to assist or advise counties or individuals on a variety of special or unusual vertebrate pest problems. Please feel free to ask. If it is beyond our ability or responsibility we can usually direct you to the best assistance available.

Technical assistance is also available. A list of technical reports (field studies) and copies of individual reports are available on request.

Vertebrate Pest Training Calendar



Montana Rules and Code - Pest Management

 MCA 80-7-11: Vertebrate Pest Management