I work as a groundskeeper and deal with a variety of animals in a variety of different ways. One thing that always sat on my conscious was gophers (insert Caddyshack joke here). I, personally, have no problem with gophers. However outlined in my job description I am to "remove" gophers from any landscaped areas. So we poison them. We put little food pellets laced with coagulants (they thicken your blood) in their gopher holes. The poison kills them if they eat it for more than 3 days in a row. My guess is that it is slow and extremely painful, but I don't know. Up until the early 2000s, my job used a poison that would kill them much faster. One side effect of THAT poison was the the gophers would go crazy, run up out of their burrows and die out in the open. Hawks, eagles, and falcons would then eat the poisoned gopher and then die themselves. While I value the life of a hawk over the life of a gopher on an ecology scale, what gets me is this...That I make these little critters suffer greatly for good of another species. Is it that hawks are more ecologically important than gophers? They are important for pest control especially here in Santa Cruz. They also have a visual aesthetic that people (or at least me) associate with competency, fierceness and bravery. So is it another example of anthropomorphism? Sacrifice-the-lowly-gopher-digger-of-holes-for-the-noble-king-of-the-sky kinda thing?
One more thing. Part of my morning routine is checking the dumpsters to see if there are any raccoons trapped inside. Many would consider the raccoon as much of a pest as a gopher...in my experience they are just as destructive to the garden as the gophers are...BUT NO ONE ASKS ME TO POISON THEM. It's inconsistent and it bothers me.
I'D LIKE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS.
No judgments please I know I'm a gopher killer, no need to rub it in.
- Alex Verdoia