Frank Anger is no Carl Spackler, the golf course groundskeeper played by Bill Murray in the 1980 comedy “Caddyshack.”
And that’s bad news for gophers.
The retired Del Webb at Woodbridge resident is called on to kill the bane of Manteca area gardeners and farmers — gophers
Unlike Murray’s character, Anger doesn’t have to resort to plastic explosives. His arsenal consists of 40 basic gopher traps.
“It’s really fairly simple,” Anger said of putting the end to the life of a gopher that can lay waste to a $35 rose bush for an appetizer and move on to a $300 decorative tree to feast on for several days.
Anger’s gopher bagging days started in 2007 after he retired from Maxtor and moved to Del Webb in Manteca. He took a part-time retirement job at Del Webb maintaining common areas and doing tasks such as refilling dispensers with doggy poop bags located around the neighborhood. It was shortly after starting that job that Anger killed his gopher.
Some 2,000 gophers alone at Del Webb have met their fate thanks to Anger who meticulously tracks their locations and when they were killed on a map of the Del Webb community.
“The gopher problem here was bad,” Anger said of the burrowing rodents that experts say can easily churn through a ton of first a year.
He estimated the first few years he set about killing gophers for Del Webb they avoided losing $60,000 worth of landscaping.
He eventually retired from his post-retirement job and started concentrating on being a traveling gopher exterminator. Del Webb still retains Anger to kill gophers in common areas at the age-restricted community.
Anger charges $20 per gopher killed. He only pays after he kills a gopher. The charge is slightly more if he travels to areas like Tracy or Stockton. Farmers — that tend to have multiple gophers to deal with — get a price break.
Anger, however, is more than happy to tell people who call how they can gophers on their own for no charge. Nearly always, however, they prefer having him do the work.
“You may have multiple mounds in your yard but it is (usually) one gopher,” Anger said of the solitary pests that he said will fight to the death if two of them are placed in a box.
The longest time it has taken him to kill a gopher is a week. The shortest time was three minutes.
Anger had located a gopher tunnel in a woman’s yard with a probe, carefully dug an area of turf perhaps a foot square at most that he carefully removed so it can be back in place afterwards without any hole being dug, and set his trap.
A neighbor asked to check out his back yard for gophers. When he returned, the marker that he had attached to the trap was wriggling above ground. He had bagged the gopher.
Anger said he has heard numerous gopher stories over the years. One of his favorites was a man who tried to drown a gopher by flooding a tunnel with water. When the soil collapsed and the hose became stuck he couldn’t pull it out. So he tied the faucet end of the hose to his pickup truck and hit the gas. The hose flew out and shattered the vehicle’s back window.
On orchards and fields it isn’t unusual for him to kill dozens of gophers at a time. He takes the dead gophers to an almond orchard where he leaves them for coyotes and foxes to dine on.
Those that use poison run the risk of killing animals including owls that some farmers encourage to take up residency in orchards to help control the gophers.
His smartphone is full of photos of gopher kills with a number having upwards of 10 carcasses lined up much like a duck hunter might display his limit. One photo shows a rare kill — a black gopher — while another shows the biggest gopher he’s killed. It was the size of a shoe.
To contact Anger regarding gopher extermination call 234.8608.