Life imitates art, as exterminators blast gophers—and neighbors too

COTTAGE GROVE, OR–In the classic 1980 comedy Caddyshack, starring Rodney Dangerfield, Chevy Chase, and Bill Murray, the climax comes when Murray, playing the gopher-obsessed groundskeeper Carl Spackler, turns to heavy explosives to eradicate the pesky rodents. It made for a hilarious scene, but it did not look like a good idea, especially when the explosions destroyed much of the golf course that Spackler was supposed to be maintaining.

But, flash forward 30 years or so and it turns out that someone, specifically Cynergy Pest Control and Home Inspections of Eugene, OR, seems to have found Caddyshack a source of inspiration. As reported in the August 13 Eugene Register-Guard, the company used the Rodex 4000 Plus Rodent Control System on a property in nearby Cottage Grove. Doing so involved using pressurized propane gas to blast gopher burrows.

As in the movie, there was collateral damage. Mike Lester, who lived next to the property where the battle against the gophers was being waged, sued Cynergy. The 60-year-old plaintiff complained that the series of loud explosions had left him with persistent ringing in his ears and hearing loss.

Earlier this month, Lester obtained a $37,000 settlement from the pest control company. The retired roofing contractor said that the company had offered him more, but on condition that he not publicize the terms of the agreement. Lester said he rejected the larger sum because he wanted to put pest control companies on notice about the consequences they face for using this type of rodent eradication in violation of the safety instructions in the user manual.