The South Puget Sound area was once the site of thriving prairie and oak savannas, but these native grasslands are now “among the most endangered ecological communities in North America,” according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Less than 8% of this habitat still remains (with only about 2-3% still dominated by native plants), and as it disappears, so do the species that depend on it. Among these are the threatened Mazama Pocket Gopher.
The Encyclopedia of Puget Sound recently visited a study site for these gophers in an effort to document something often overlooked for these species. Since mazama pocket gophers spend much of their time underground, they are rarely seen, and are even less commonly heard. As quiet as they are, they do make sounds, and we teamed up with WDFW biologist Gail Olson to make some extremely rare recordings of this rare species. We gave Gail a microphone and she recorded a captive gopher that had been trapped briefly as part of a study by WDFW. You can hear a recording and find out more about this species on the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound at: http://www.eopugetsound.org/articles/mazama-pocket-gopher-audio-recording.