Harvey County West Park pushing out unwanted visitors

Harvey County West Park prides itself on being a nature preserve.  That's part of the reason campers come back.

"We see deer, turkey, bob cats and geese,” camper Mike Cope said.

But there's something these long-time campers have never seen... the pocket gopher.

"They do make a good mess,” camper Robert Sherry said.

The little rodents burrow underground, leaving mounds of dirt behind.

“They can make up to 200 mounds of dirt a year,” Park Manager Shannon G. Metz said.

Metz says earlier this year, the park was covered with mounds.  But thanks to some focused drivers pulling a harrow that knocks-over the piles of dirt, the un-invited park guests are moving out.

"[With] the vibration of the ground often times you can encourage them to go make their home someplace else,” Metz said.

The only way you know these guys are out here... these mounds of dirt they leave behind.  But you'll have to come back at night to see them.  That's really the only time they come out.

"[Visitors] really don't want to see to see a lot of these huge dirt piles.  Why is that?  And, why is it there?  You know,” Metz said.

Debbie Kay Cobb was on a personal mission while she was behind the wheel.

"I especially liked knocking the ones down by my trailer,” Cobb said.

Thanks to workers like Cobb, Metz says more than half of the estimated 400 pocket gophers living in the 310-acre park have packed their bags.

Metz says the pocket gophers are harmless.  But they can tear-up gardens, golf courses, and they love alfalfa fields.  She says the drought may have encouraged them to dig so much.

Harvey County West Park pushing out unwanted visitors