The Great Gopher Hoax – How I Uncovered the ESA Fraud

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I never found any evidence that any of Dalquest’s work underwent any kind of scientific review.  He had a friend who worked in a museum, so Dalquest’s many discoveries just got logged into various museum records.

And as far as his Thurston County gopher subspecies–subsequent research and DNA tests have proven that his theories about fur color were wrong.  There were no identified subspecies.

Even our state’s Wildlife officials state that fur color doesn’t signify a different subspecies.

That didn’t stop those same officials from using Dalquest’s little essays as their basis for declaring our pocket gophers to be endangered–even after they had disproved his work.

In 1944–two years after Dalquest “discovered” his four gopher subspecies–he came up with the idea that his little gophers didn’t like the mountains, and could only live on the prairies of south Thurston County–which were threatened by “invading forests.”

Dalquest's 1944 fears about "invading forests" hurting the gophers
Dalquest’s 1944 fears about “invading forests” hurting the gophers

In reality, our prairies aren’t natural.  They’re manmade.  They were created by native tribes who repeatedly burned the forests to give themselves agricultural areas.  Once the burns stopped, the forests began to come back.

As intriguing as Dalquest’s 1944 theory sounded, it was also easily disproven.  Pocket gophers are one of the most common mammals in our state’s mountains, including nearby Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens.

Swapping species to meet endangered criteria

To his credit, at least Dalquest wrote that his multi-colored gophers were members of the common Northern (or “talpoides”) pocket gopher species that infests our state.

Twenty years later, however, another “discovery” about our county’s gophers really took the cake.

And this discovery had even less evidence that Dalquest’s little two page essays.  This time, the only evidence was the simple gopher penis sketch shown above, and here –

The "proof" behind the listing
The “proof” behind the listing

But that simple sketch has had a massive impact on the lives of the people of south Thurston County.  Because of that sketch, many of our neighbors have lost everything their family had owned for generations.

It’s now called a Mazama gopher…because of WHAT?

In 1961, a man named E.R. Johnson decided to inspect the private parts of the male members of Dalquest’s multi-colored gopher “subspecies” that were residing in south Thurston County.

Based on his inspection, Johnson decided that our male gophers here in Thurston were much more impressively endowed than their counterparts in neighboring counties.

Based on his intriguing, albeit unsubstantiated theory, Johnson then surmised that our Thurston County gophers were actually members of the allegedly well-endowed Mazama species from the deep forests of Mt. Shasta, near the California/Oregon border.

To back up his assertions, he drew childlike sketches of what he believed to represent a Northern or “talpoides” pocket gopher penis, and then what he believed a Mazama pocket gopher penis should look like.

Below these sketches, he drew a primitive ruler.

That’s it.  That’s all the evidence that anyone has that our local gophers are pioneering Mazamas from the mountains of California, rather than common garden variety Northern gophers, that wreak destruction wherever they go, and can’t be killed off.

There is no other evidence baking up Johnson’s fifty-five year old claims.  Just like there was no evidence of any of Walter Dalquest’s goofy subspecies claims from seventy-five years ago.

Below is an excerpt from page 5 of a 2013 WDFW report that shows how these bureaucrats use these silly and ancient “discoveries” by Dalquest and Johnson to back up their endangered species listings–like the gopher listing that has ruined so many people’s lives in our community. (Dalquest’s 1944 report was referenced, instead of his original 1942 report.)

Dalquest’s 1942 claims about different subspecies have been disproven by DNA tests.  That didn’t stop the bureaucrats from using his disproven report, 5 2013 gopher update

We can’t do any tests to challenge Johnson’s loopy 1960 belief that out local pocket gophers are part of a distant California clan because he thought the guys had large penises.

The federal and the state agencies have made it illegal for anyone to perform DNA tests to challenge Johnson’s perplexing 1960 gopher penis sketches.

The government refuses to perform any tests that would disprove their fraudulent listings.  They don’t have to.

If any of us even try to catch a gopher just to get some DNA, we can be arrested and massively fined.

It would be illegal for a genetics lab to take any samples that we might send to them for DNA testing.

So we’re stuck.  We can’t legally get the evidence to prove the cruel scam that required federal, state, and local government collusion.

And the tragic stories of this fraud’s victims are heartbreaking.

The Hoax’s Victims

Those who are hurt the most by this hoax are low income, the elderly, the unemployed, and those who are already crushed with massive expenses like medical bills.

Often, these people are financially devastated, and their last hope is to sell the only thing they have left–their home or property.

These gopher protection laws have made much of south Thurston County’s land worthless and unusable.

Unable to sell their property, people are forced to lose everything.  Sometimes it’s property that had been in the family for generations.

Incredibly destructive–and indestructible

The pocket gopher is one of the most destructive pests known to the western U.S.  It damages more western timber than all other species combined.  It destroys structures, pipes, and wiring.

Horses, alpacas, and other livestock have stepped in gopher holes and broken legs.  They have had to be euthanized.

It creates a life-threatening trip-and-fall hazard to the elderly, because gopher holes are hard to see, and a single gopher can quickly riddle the ground with their holes.

The federal government spent fifty years trying everything possible to eradicate the pocket gopher.  But once an area is infested, the gophers can’t be killed off.  Out of desperation, other states use strychnine.

Because our local gopher protection laws have prevented people from taking normal actions to kill these destructive rodents, our infestation is particularly bad.

Even when finally do get these crazy laws reversed, it will be a long time before we can grapple with the damage caused by uncontrolled gopher breeding, in an area with few natural predators.

Uncovering the fraud over time – my 2014 “Watchdog Wire” articles

It took me a while to uncover the really heavy duty fraud.  A lot of endless searches for obscure ancient records.  A lot of public records requests.  A lot of digging through stacks of dusty courthouse files.

Once I uncovered the fraudulent documents, my husband Steve began to expose more ongoing fraud through multiple series of his photographs.  Time and again throughout my various investigations, Steve’s careful photos have uncovered layers of lies and deceit.

Here are my 2014 Watchdog Wire articles about the great gopher hoax – click on the highlighted green words to see the articles:

Part 1 gives an introduction – Gopher wins ESA Listing Based on Genitalia Size

Part 2 shows true insanity in action –  Can a Well Endowed “Endangered” Gopher Really Drive a Tractor?

Part 3 shows the sobering reality of how far they are willing to take this – Washington State Protects Endangered Gophers Better than Cops, Citizens

Then I started to uncover the real fraud, step by step, beginning with Part 4.

Part 4 also explains why we are completely powerless to get the DNA evidence to reveal the fraud – ‘International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature’ Behind Pocket Gopher Hoax

Part 5 showed how WDFW created a phony map pretending to show gopher mounds on private property.

This kind of map would make a piece of property worthless, and the owner wouldn’t even be notified.  My husband Steve’s photos gave me the critical evidence – Secret Gopher Map Reveals Washington Agency’s Power

Part 6 is where I found the evidence that both the Northern and the Mazama pocket  gophers live and breed happily in the mountains and forests.

Thurston County gopher protection is based primarily on the belief that our gophers can’t abide forests and mountains, and will go extinct if their small patch of prairie habitat is disturbed. Government Claims about Pocket Gopher Protection Remain Flawed

Part 7 is where I finally find the evidence that shows how the fraud worked–the 1942 and 1944 Dalquest essays, and the 1961 Johnson sketch.  Outdated Essays on Pocket Gophers Reveal Lack of Evidence for ESA listing.

We are still fighting.  We won’t stop until the fraud is finally stopped.

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