blame nekrekker for this one.

No, it is certainly not easy being a gopher in saskatchewan, to say the least.

Gopher yelling in anguish at the pain of his tormented life

Gophers,
or Richardson’s Ground Squirrels as they may also be called, have a
variety or aches and pains in their daily lives, not the least of which
is being on the low end of the food chain. There are several birds of prey,
including:

  • hawks
  • eagles
  • owls
  • and falcons


all of which threaten the gopher in their search of sustenance. Land
based predators such as snakes, weasels, badgers, and coyotes all vie
for succulent little gophers to slake their hunger.

Humans in
particular have an interesting love/hate relationship with the gophers.
While on one hand, they provide excellent conditions for the gopher
population to grow and thrive with pasture land and excellent grass and
wheat feed, humans also play a large part in eradicating the Richardson’s Ground Squirrel.

Farmers and ranchers, worried the holes and tunnelling systems created by gophers will increase
the risk of broken legs of their cattle, will take such actions as
poisoning and shooting the gophers in mass numbers. Attitudes
prevailing from the days of homesteading, where the loss of any crop
output was unforgivable, also contribute to modern day farming and
ranching society’s anger with the furry little fellows.

Other highly controversial hunting for sport ventures such as the Ken Turcot Memorial Gopher Derby,
(in which contestants kill as many gophers as they can and present
their tails as proof) contribute to the demise of the richardson’s
ground squirrel.

But not all is lost! gophers are an extremely
resilient mammal. they can raise large litters of 6-14 pups to maturity
in two months. Even when high population density areas experience
population thinning to 70%, neighbouring burrows of ground squirrels
can quickly re-establish populations in no time at all.

So
although conditions may seem difficult, and indeed, have been for many
years in Saskatchewan for the Richardson’s ground squirrel, they are
hardy creatures that have lived on for decades. Let’s hope to continue
to hear and see these friendly, fuzzy, and sassy creatures playing in
the Canadian praries for years to come.

Happy gopher looking out of his hole, hoping for better days

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