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Gopher-Killing Machine Helped Build His Business
Richard Murphy has to turn away business since he started using Pressurized Exhaust Rodent Control (PERC) machines to kill gophers and ground squirrels with pressurized carbon monoxide. He has more demand for services than he has time in the day.
  “It’s the best tool I’ve found in 37 years of doing pest control, working with bait, smoke bombs and toxins,” says Murphy. “I was always happy with 30 to 50 percent control. With the PERC units, I get 80 percent control and have seen it as high as 100 percent.”
  PERC units generate pressurized carbon monoxide to fill tunnels. The trailer-mounted unit includes a gas engine, a pressurized tank and stainless steel wands with hoses to deliver the gas into tunnels.
  Allen Hurlburt at H&M Gopher Control developed the machines and has more than 900 in the field. He says Murphy is not alone in building a business around the technology.
  “We have customers using them to control rattlesnakes in Montana, bats in Oregon and armadillos in Texas,” says Hurlburt. “We even have several guys in Oklahoma and Texas using them to control fire ants.”
  In tests conducted by the University of California, Davis, the PERC system achieved 97 1/2 percent and 100 percent control in two, 1-acre plots set up by Murphy. The plots were carefully monitored by university biologists before and after treatment.
  Murphy notes that in real life it is harder to get an accurate count since gophers and squirrels can quickly move into a treated area. Murphy does about 90 percent of his work in almond orchards. Digger squirrels there can damage the crop, destroy vital drip irrigation tubing and leave holes that almonds fall into at harvest.
  “Growers tell me they can lose at least 300 lbs. of nuts per acre at $4 per lb. (2015 price),” says Murphy.
  Murphy has a model 412 PERC that puts out about 33 cfm and a model 620 that puts out about 70 cfm. H&M also makes smaller machines. Prices range from $5,425 for a skid-mounted model 206 to $15,075 for a tandem axle model 620.
  Murphy is booked 6 months ahead and admits that if he wanted to hire employees, he could keep 4 machines busy all the time. However, he admits there is a downside to the work.
  “It’s probably the most boring thing I’ve ever done,” he says. “Once I find tunnels with gophers or squirrels, I put in 5 to 6 probes, cover the holes and let the gas in. Each set of holes take 5 to 8 min. and then I move on to the next.”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Richard Murphy, 2624 Coral Oak Dr., Modesto, Calif. 95355 or H&M Gopher Control, 1979 County Rd. 106, Tulelake, Calif. 96134 (ph 530 667-5181; toll free 855 667-5181; allen@hmgophercontrol.com; www.hmgophercontrol.com).

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2016 - Volume #40, Issue #2