Wayne's World - Readers confirm gophers can fly PDF Print
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Tuesday, 03 August 2010 19:28

By: Wayne Litke

I thought an angry e-mail or phone call would be coming my way after bashing animal activist groups for their lack of balance and common sense, but that didn’t happen. However, I was clued in last week after writing about the survival of the fittest resulting in gophers one day evolving into top predators.
It turns out that several people have spotted gophers perched on fence posts just like the feathered raptors that prey upon them. Energy workers, ranchers and people who travel on gravel roads confided that they too have spotted the cute little creatures sitting on fence posts. Last week, a resident phoned and explained how she too had witnessed such an occurrence and was politely laughed at when she asked if other people traveling the same road had seen the unusual sight.
It seems like the animal’s inclination to climb a fence post may be enhanced when lush vegetation makes it difficult to watch for predators. In such a case, climbing a fence post may be the only way to keep an eye out for coyotes and birds of prey.
I was also told that gophers can actually fly, especially when they are hit by a big-bore rifle while sitting on a rock.  The impact reportedly lifted the animal almost to the overhead power line. It doesn’t stop there as bullets not only cause gophers to fly, they can also cause the critters to fly apart. While it’s not pretty, the energy transfer from a large-bore slug can cause the pests to totally come unglued. It is not a recommended practice, but it certainly speeds up the decomposition process.
There are myths about rototillers catching gophers and launching them into the air. In one case, the creature was apparently flung right into the rototiller operator, but that seems unlikely if you ask me.
Furthermore, I guess Saskatchewan is running out of arable land in which the creatures can burrow. For some unknown reason, they seem to rise to a challenge and enjoy tunneling beneath grid roads where they then surface. It was reported that a gopher bore through the hard-surfaced (asphalt) road near Piapot. To make it more insulting, the damned thing dives down when a vehicle approaches and then pops back up. I am sure such a smart-ass gopher sticks out its tongue as a driver curses the missed opportunity and continues down the road.
Gophers may consider squatting as their legal right to live beneath a municipal road, but I consider their actions to be vandalism. Willful destruction of public property, roadways in particular, is not tolerated at any level and therefore gophers should not be afforded any special consideration, by animal activists or bleeding-heart sympathizers.
As for the evolution of gophers, it’s only a theory and if Charles Darwin is half-way correct about natural selection, gophers could slowly mutate into a very nasty predator. Such an idea  should not be discounted as it is a definite possibility–a remote possibility–but a possibility nonetheless. As far as I know, there is no scientific evidence that disproves it.
Our society is often referred to as a dog-eat-dog world, but how often does a person see such an act? It is far more common to see a gopher snacking on a relative that was too slow or stupid to dodge a vehicle traveling at 80 to 110 kmph. Protein at any level: brother, cousin or neighbour is something that is shared in the gopher world.
As for me, I threw out my rose-coloured glasses a while ago and call it the way I see it. We live in a gopher-eat-gopher world, so don’t let the critters’ entertaining behaviour blind you to their evolutionary plans to one day dominate the animal kingdom.
However, not everyone is in agreement with that line of reasoning and that is a positive thing. We learn from each other and considering different viewpoints serves to educate and balance an individual. On that note, one reader wrote, “I read your column this week and you have confirmed what I suspected all along: you are insane.”
I admit that too is a possibility, but it has never been clinically proven . . . and I am not volunteering for any more tests.

 
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