The Camas pocket gopher – Small but fierce!

by Tom Kaye — last modified Oct 22, 2013

IAE and ODOT find win-win solution for gopher and lupines

The Camas Pocket Gopher
The Camas Pocket Gopher

Recently IAE’s Ian Silvernail, Restoration Ecologist with the Habitat Restoration Program, caught this pocket gopher on camera. The Camas pocket gopher (Thomomys bulbivorus) is the largest species of its kind in our region, and it has been described as the most vicious animal of its size! Its geographic range matches almost exactly the extent that the Bretz Flood of 13,000 years ago inundated Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

IAE is working with the Oregon Department of Transportation to restore habitat for Fender’s blue butterfly at a site south of Philomath, Oregon. A small population of Kincaid’s lupine, Fender’s blue’s primary host plant, still grows at this site, but burrowing animals have rapidly increased in this area, threatening to damage the lupine. We recently learned that at least some of the burrowers are Camas pocket gophers, a Special Status Species. To protect both the lupine and the gophers, ODOT will be live trapping and relocating captured animals on the same property but away from the lupines. Thanks, ODOT, for the win-win solution.