Press Democrat: Cotati Man’s Owls Put Vineyard Rodents on the Run

Lean about one Cotati man's sustainable solution to taking care of pesky vineyard pests. John Schuster, owner of Wild Wing Co.'s boxes have helped put a significant dent in gopher populations in North Bay vineyards and beyond, using nature to protect a multibillion-dollar crop.

Vineyard managers have wrestled for years over how to control pests, including gophers and other rodents, that can destroy their vines and fields. For old-timers, there was the do-it-yourself option of tying a hose to the exhaust pipe of a tractor and placing it into the rodents’ burrows. Once popular, toxic baiting has fallen out of favor in the era of sustainable farming. Traps are useful, but very labor intensive.

The challenge has been to find an economical and environmental friendly way to rid farm fields of gophers and voles without resorting to the escalating measures epitomized by Bill Murray’s groundskeeper character in “Caddyshack.”


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