SPECIES SNAFU: Is a pocket gopher a real species?
By Melissa Genson | WatchdogWire.com
Larry Weaver wants his gopher blood back.
That smidgen of gopher blood means the world to both Weaver and many in his Rochester community in southwest Thurston County, Washington.
Weaver, a realtor and small developer, allowed the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to trap a mazama pocket gopher on his Rochester property, to collect DNA. The DNA blood sample was supposed to be tested to find out whether his gopher was indeed a member of an Endangered Species Act federally listed “subspecies.”
International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature
In their April 2014 federal listing of four subspecies of the mazama pocket gopher, U.S. Fish and Wildlife defended their lack of DNA proof or other evidence. USFW stated that these subspecies were recognized by the “International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature,” stating on page 5:
It is possible that ongoing genetic work will clarify the relationship between the subspecies in the future, and if the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature receives and accepts a revised taxonomy for the Mazama pocket gopher that is at odds with the taxonomy used here, we can revisit the listing at that time.
To date, however, there has been no publication of any data that could lead to a formal submission for a revision of the taxonomy of the Mazama pocket gopher to the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, nor is there any record indicating that they have received any petition to consider a revision.
Therefore, consistent with the direction from the Act (i.e., based on the best scientific and commercial data available at the time of our finding), we are using the established taxonomy for the Mazama pocket gopher, which recognizes the Olympia, Roy Prairie, Tenino, and Yelm pocket gopher as separate subspecies.
So who is the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, and what do they have to say about our mazama pocket gopher?