The two common species of voles present in the B.C. Interior are stout-bodied, short-tailed rodents often mistakenly called field or meadow mice.
The meadow vole is about 14 to 17.5 cm long with small eyes and ears that barely extend beyond the fur. The tail is about 1/3 the length of the head and body. The tail, body and head are uniformly covered in a grizzled grey to grizzled brown fur.
The montane vole (mountain vole) closely resembles the meadow vole. It measures13.5 to 16.5 cm long; however, unlike the meadow vole, the tail is less than 1/3 the length of the head and body. Another difference is the underside of the body is grey in the summer and white in winter.
Both species prefer a habitat with abundant ground cover. They usually establish a system of surface runways and underground tunnels. Voles begin feeding on fruit trees when cool weather reduces their summer food supply. Injury to trees can begin in late summer and continue through fall and winter. Complete girdling of the trunk or roots will kill the trees. Damage to roots is often worse than visible damage above the ground.
1. Mow the cover crop and remove prunings, tall weeds and grasses to discourage mice from breeding within the orchards.
2. Remove brush piles and other trash adjacent to orchards to discourage mice from migrating into the orchards.
3. Destroy all vegetation at the base of trees with herbicides or by cultivation to discourage voles from feeding on the bark. However, retain vegetation where snow cover may be inadequate to protect trees from cold temperature change.
4. Place wire or plastic mouse guards around the base of trees, especially young trees, to exclude mice. Mouse guards should extend to at least 45 cm above soil level and 5 - 10 cm below.
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