YAKIMA, Wash. — Gophers digging holes at Yakima Air Terminal could cause problems if left unchecked, so airport staff will work with federal experts to kill the rodents and limit any damage they cause.

On Tuesday, Yakima City Council approved a $30,000 contract with U.S. Department of Agriculture to help cull the animals using poison bait. The contract is to take effect immediately.

Yakima manages the airport.

If the gopher population isn’t controlled now, their burrowing could weaken runways and taxiways or create uneven ground, Rob Peterson, the airport manager, told the City Council.

Ground adjacent to runways must be kept smooth and free from mounds of dirt created by gophers in case a plane somehow leaves a runway. Gophers can also attract other animals, such as hawks, which can pose a hazard to aircraft.

“This (contract) would allow us get the upper hand on eradicating our pocket gopher problem,” Peterson said.

After the yearlong contract expires, it could be renewed, if needed, but the gopher population at that point would likely be manageable by airport staff, he said.