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Mazama Pocket Gopher

Mazama Pocket Gopher

The Mazama Pocket Gopher is a State-listed species that has been recently listed as Threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). This species prefers western Washington prairie habitat. Much of this historical prairie habitat is currently located in areas of rapid development. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has afforded protections for this species and its habitat. These protections are enforced by local Governmental Agencies through land use permits. If the Mazama pocket gopher’s preferred soil type has been mapped on your property, a site evaluation will be required as a permit condition.  If pocket gophers are identified on your property, you may be required to submit a Mazama Pocket Gopher Habitat Management Plan (HMP) as part of your land use permit package.

Habitat Management Plan (HMP)

EnviroVector has been performing Mazama pocket gopher studies and preparing Mazama Pocket Gopher Habitat Management Plans since 2004, prior to State and Federal listings as a threatened species. The majority of our studies have occurred in Thurston, Pierce, Mason, and Lewis Counties. Habitat Management Plans (HMPs) or Habitat Assessment Reports are required by some counties and cities during the land use permit process when sensitive species or habitats are present. These reports describe the existing wildlife habitat, use patterns, species presence, project impacts, and mitigation or conservation measures. EnviroVector will provide services to satisfy Agency environmental permitting requirements. Curtis Wambach, M.S., Senior Biologist and Principal, is on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) gopher biologist list.

Gopher Information

Mazama pocket gophers are small (body ~5.5 in) fossorial (live in underground burrows) rodents. The Mazama pocket gopher produces characteristically crescent-shaped mounds of soil above the ground (see left). Typically, mounds have a plug of soil closing the burrow entrance at the edge of the mound between the crescent, as opposed to the central tunnel of a mole mound. Pocket gophers eat a wide variety of roots and above-ground plant parts, unlike moles which eat bugs and worms. Mazama pocket gopher habitat consists of open meadows, prairie, or grassland that contain malleable soils that are not too rocky. In general, pocket gophers prefer light-textured, porous, well-drained soils, rather than peat, gravel, or heavy clay. Pocket gopher populations are reported to undergo occasional extreme fluctuations and are characterized by local extinction and re-colonization, which causes gopher mound distribution to continually change, and sometimes dramatically.


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