grasslands, prairies and oak woodlands of western Washington
once supported thriving populations of eight subspecies of
the Mazama pocket gopher. Today, all eight are endangered,
three might even be extinct.
prime culprit, as usual, is habitat destruction. Ninety-seven
percent of the Puget Sound basin's grasslands have be destroyed
or degraded by agricultural expansion, livestock grazing,
fire suppression, exotic plant invasion, and urban and suburban
sprawl. Pocket gophers are also threatened by pesticide and
pocket gopher (T. m. louiei) is known only from
the type locality in Wahkiakum County. It may now be extinct.
pocket gopher (T. m. melanops) is found in the
Olympic National Park in Clallam County where it is restricted
to subalpine habitat of the higher Olympic Mountains.
of the Shelton pocket gopher (T. m. couchi)
remains at the Shelton airport in Mason County. Another may
occur on penitentiary grounds near Shelton.
Roy Prairie pocket gopher (T. m. glacialis) is
known only from Roy Prairie in Pierce County. A small population
was found south of Roy, and populations were detected nearby
on Fort Lewis.
pocket gopher (T. m. pugetensis) is known from
Thurston County where it occurs in small numbers.
pocket gopher (T. m. tumuli) is known from Thurston
County. It may now be extinct.
pocket gopher (T. m. yelmensis) is known from Thurston
County. Several relatively large populations were detected
on Johnson and Weir prairies on Fort Lewis near the town of
pocket gopher (T. m. tacomensis) was known historically
from Pierce County. It may now be extinct.
10, 2002 the Center For Biological Diversity and the Northwest
Ecosystem Alliance filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service to protect Washington's eight Mazama pocket
gopher subspecies under the Endangered Species Act. Listing
under the ESA will require protection of specific grasslands,
prairies, and woodlands as "critical habitat" for
the gophers and the development of a federal recovery plan.
It will ensure that federal agencies act to save the gopher
while encouraging state and private interests to participate