Summary: Voles are not as common as moles, but can do damage to lawns and gardens similar to its underground mole cousin.
Lawrence D from MN asks: Last winter we had vole damage in our rose garden. Is there a poision I could use to make this winter go any better?
Dear Lawrence: The vole looks for lots of vegetation and debris in which to hide and build nests. Keep garden weeds to a minimum and do not allow your lawn to grow tall and you will keep most voles at bay. They also like ground cover such as creeping junipers and euonymus and thick mulch around trees and against foundation walls. Even heavy snows provide voles protective cover in the winter as they look for food sources in your landscaping.
There are various methods of ridding your property of voles if you are already under attack. If you wish to kill them there are numerous types of poisons that are sold. D-Con can be purchased at any grocery store and can be placed in the area where you are finding vole activity. Gopher bait, available under the name Eatons Gopher Bait Blocks, is another frequently used product. If you use poison baits be sure to carefully read the label instructions and follow them exactly. Poison baits can be hazardous to children, pets and other non-targeted wildlife. Be sure to place the baits in locking bait stations.
Deer repellents and rabbit repellents like Rabbit Scram are easy to use and are known to be effective. Predator odors like fox and coyote urine can be purchased at outdoor supply stores. Again, read the label carefully and know that you will have to re-apply this product often. Rain and direct sunlight will weaken it. Voles also can get accustomed to the smell which will make it less effective over a period of time.
Trapping is the only method that really shows if you are having success. That is, if you are into keeping a count. Mouse snap traps with a little dab of peanut butter can be used to trap voles. Again, snap traps can be dangerous to use if your have children or pets. Place enough traps out in the path of the vole to give it all the opportunity it needs to get trapped.
Lastly, there is animal fence which takes some effort to erect, but which can be placed around specific locations you wish to protect, such as gardens and young trees.