Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Science, Vol. 19, No. 479 (Apr. 8, 1892), pp. 204-205


The ravages of the pocket gopher extended very generally throughout the State of Iowa, but came under my own personal notice in the rich and fertile farm lands of Poweshiek County and surroundings. The annual loss they occasioned became a matter of such serious moment to the farmers of this county that on Jan. 8, 1890, an unusually liberal measure was voted by the board of supervisors, to the effect that "a bounty of ten cents a head be paid on gopher scalps taken in Poweshiek County, subject to the same laws and conditions that pertain to the payment of bounties on wolf scalps, and pockets must be produced in each case before the claimant will be entitled to the bounty." These concealed little pests not only feed on surrounding vegetation, but, what is worse on the whole, choke it out by the innumerable mounds of earth heaped up by them everywhere. I have seen fields which were literally black with gopher hills, and, if rooting swine can be said to upturn a field, so can the gopher. Besides, the loss by accidents to machinery and animals occasioned by striking against the gopher hills, or by sinking into their runs or holes, is very considerable. So while it is not to be marvelled at that some concerted action should be taken towards the extermination of such a pest, yet the high price paid for the experiment must excite some comment.