Monday, August 29, 2005

Owl Food and a Volleyball Team

Alice's favorite food, hands down, is the pocket gopher (Geomys bursarius.) This works out quite well since there is a bounty on pocket gophers in our area--for now. At one time not so long ago, most farm kids trapped gophers as a way to earn some spending money since we didn't get allowances in those days. But now, precious few farm kids trap gophers. There are, however, just a few self-taught trappers who have learned the art of trapping gophers. Alice's food supply comes from these trappers.

Alice only eats about 200 gophers a year. My main two trappers bring in over 2,000 gophers per year combined. So besides picking up food for Alice, we also pick up all the excess and redistribute the food to wildlife rehabilitators to save them on their food bills. It seems the other birds are in agreement with Alice--pocket gophers are the best. Marge Gibson in Antigo, WI has sick and injured eagles that sometimes won't eat fish...but they'll eat gophers!

So it was that last week my husband was doing the "gopher run." He had gone to Eitzen, MN to clean out the trapper's nearly-overflowing freezer and transfer them into one of our gopher freezers. He had a couple of other errands he needed to run on the way, and since 300 gophers in the back of a little 2-door Geo Tracker don't thaw out fast on a 75 degree day, he also stopped at Dairy Queen to treat himself to a blizzard.

Apparently the volleyball team from the nearby school was waiting for a bus at Dairy Queen. My husband sat down to enjoy his blizzard inside while the girls milled around outside. Then he heard a horrifying scream--like someone was being murdered!

It only took him a second to find the problem. One of the volleyball players gathered out front happened to look inside his Tracker. She was greeted by the site of 300 dead pocket gophers, front feet removed for bounty, in open-toped boxes. I can't even imagine what this would look like to someone who had no idea what was going on.

So what did the other girls do? They ran over to have a look for themselves! Did my husband rush out to explain the situation. No. He sat inside and laughed his head off.

Kind of reminds me of an incident I heard about where a falconer had just purchased 100+ (dead) day-old chicks to feed to his hawks. He stopped somewhere on the long trip home, and when he returned to his car found a ticket charging him with 100+ accounts of cruelty to animals. No amount of arguing with the authorities would convince them that the chicks were dead when he got them, and he actually had to go to court over the issue!

Thank goodness no police officers noticed our Tracker full of dead gophers. Although we live in a rural enough area that most police officers might just know us and what we do....

No comments:

Post a Comment