Gopher derby halted
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2004:
SASKATOON, Saskatchewan, Canada –The Ken Turcot Memorial
Gopher Derby was not held in 2004, after participants reportedly
killed as many as 100,000 Richardson’s ground squirrels and prairie
dogs in 2002 and 2003. The first edition of the killing contest
attracted 211 hunters. The 2003 edition drew just 120.
Saskatoon Wildlife Federation business manager Len Jabush
indicated to Sean Pratt of the Western Producer that the gopher derby
might be revived in 2005, “just to annoy” protesters and critics.
Sponsored by the Saskatoon Wildlife Federation, an affiliate
of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation and Canadian Wildlife
Federation, the gopher derby was opposed by the U.S.-based National
Wildlife Federation. The NWF has no authority over the Canadian
groups, but they distribute NWF publications and sponsor classroom
use of the NWF’s Project Wild lesson plans.
NWF membership recruitment mailings have for at least eight
years emphasized NWF efforts to list prairie dogs as a threatened
species in the U.S.
“I can tell you that NWF was clear and unequivocal in
opposition to such killing sprees as this gopher derby,” former NWF
vice chair Edward Clark told ANIMAL PEOPLE, “but that position was
expressed behind the scenes. I would have preferred a stronger
public position,” Clark said.