I cannot find an effective way to exterminate voles
The foundation around my house is full of vole holes and voles. I see them scurrying around and have tried everything from environmentally friendly to products with brodifacoum. Currently I have 3 plastic power drill cases with 3 inch holes drilled in each end. I have Tom Cat all season bait chunks with brodifacoum . The chunks I secure with a screw. I fill them every week with three chunks each. I have been doing this for 6 weeks and every week the containers are empty. I bought the 4 lb. pail and have gone though half of it. The product is either ineffective or I have a record population of voles. Any suggestions welcome! Thanks
Onondaga County New York
I do not recommend using rodenticides for voles UNLESS you are licensed for commercial pesticide application. The main reason is that licensed individuals have access to restricted use pesticides whereas the general public only has access to general use pesticides. While many products professionals use can be found under a different label name for the general public, when situations occur where a different formulation or a more powerful product (like zinc phosphate) needs used, those tools are only available to the professional.
For most of the general public, there are two easy ways to control voles that do not require rodenticides, they are covered mouse-sized snap traps and a special metal trap known as a rodent trap. In my experience, the metal trap is by far the most effective; however, you will need to decide how you want to handle the live vole it contains compared to a dead mole held by the snap trap.
For the metal trap, I recommend purchasing the SafeGuard 53070 Rodent trap (you can find these with a Google search). This is a 3" x 3" x 10" box trap made of of metal and is very easy to set and bait. To bait the trap, simply open the back door and spread some peanut butter on it then close the door tight. To set the trap, you press in on the inside door which will catch on the lip of the firing mechanism keeping the door open. I prefer to cover the trap in mulch leaving just the door opening exposed, but you have also just place them on the ground where you have vole activity. You'll know when you have a catch as the door flies up capturing the vole. This trap is very save to use around birds, but I have caught house mice, field mice, chipmunks, voles, and snakes in it.
If you don't want to purchase the metal trap, purchase several mice snap traps (I prefer the metal trigger over the large plastic one but both will work). You will also need a piece of gutter or a cardboard that can be bent into a U shape. To use the snap traps, locate a hole the voles are using then tie a peanut with a zip tie or bread tie to the traps metal trigger. Smear some peanut butter on the peanut to give it a little more attraction. Set the trap and place one on one side of the hole and the other directly opposite it (at times, you will see a trail which is the best place to set them). Position the traps so that the peanuts are pointed toward the hole and the strike bar away from it. Next bend a 12" piece of cardboard into a U shape where each side is 3 - 4 inches high (the strike bar needs to fire without hitting the cardboard) and just wide enough that it doesn't touch the snap traps. This creates cover that protects birds from getting caught in the traps as well as creating a "safe" zone for the voles. If you want a more robust version, use a 12" piece of K gutter instead of the cardboard. When the vole comes out of the hole it will try to feed on the peanut which will fire the trap.
Make sure to check traps daily and remove any captured animals and reset the traps. Vole control is not quick and needs done on a continual basis, but once you have the population under control it is just another maintenance chore around the house.