Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Gophers vs Badgers
You know, I hadn’t really that too much about Minnesota being called the Gopher State. I didn’t attend the University of Minnesota, so have no real desire to wear a gopher t-shirt; and as a gardener, well, I’ve generally been more inclined to do battle with the little rodents. However, I came across an article called “The Aerator of the Plains”. (scroll to page 7 for the article)
All hail (or Oh Hell) the Pocket Gopher
From the above photo you can see how they aerate the soil – and damage your lawn! ugh.
A study in Yellowstone National Park estimated that one little pocket gopher may excavate as much as five tons of soil each year. Whoa, okay, I’m impressed with their work ethic. Their underground tunnels can run up to 500 feet in length. The soil that is pushed above ground increases plant regeneration and distribution and allows rainfall and snowmelt to more efficiently permeate the soil. AND their tunnels are some to snakes, mice and ground squirrels. Again, not my favorite critters but they DO have a purpose.
Shoshone Indians believed gophers were medicine animals that could cause or cure sickness.
Ahhh, but what about the BADGER State???
Badgers are tough, don’t back down and can dig a mighty tunnel, some down more than 12 feet and 50 feet long. While they’re native to Wisconsin, the DNR, says the Badger State nickname comes from the lead miners who holed up for the winter in underground shelters in the southwestern part of the state in the 1800’s. The official nickname for Wisconsin as The Badger State wasn’t adopted until 1957.