Meet the Mazama pocket gopher, the homeliest threatened species in our state you’d never want to meet. And Washington’s list of homely threatened species is quite long when you consider all the Republicans who keep trying to run for statewide office.
Apparently, this gopher is also the homeliest threat to the workforce at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. At least that’s the story Fox News is telling.
The “Fair and Balanced” network recently merged two seemingly unrelated JBLM news stories and in so doing might have made sworn enemies between mankind and gopherkind.
“Military spending millions to protect gophers, while workers go on furlough,” proclaims the July 14 FoxNews.com headline.
You’d think a news company named after a woodland creature would have some empathy, but no.
Fox goes on to describe how the base south of Tacoma recently received $3.5 million from the feds to protect the “fuzzy critters” while some 10,000 humans who work at the base are stuck with 11 unpaid furlough days this summer.
“That really makes me mad that they would do that,” Fox quotes one of those aggrieved civilian workers saying. “I’m all for saving animals, but at what cost?”
What cost, indeed. Fox doesn’t know the half of it. Not even a third, actually.
Dig this: As the TNT reported last week, the $3.5 million was just an appetizer before the main gopher meal.
A total of $12.6 million in federal, state, and local money will be spent to buy land around JBLM. It will help create a buffer to protect threatened rodents, larks and butterflies from things that go blammo in the night.
Alas, it’s too late to save our favorite subspecies, the extinct Tacoma pocket gopher (Thomomys mazama tacomensis). But we still might have time to save its smooth-toothed, burrowing parent species (Thomomys mazama).
Fox reported that the JBLM commander, Col. Charles Hodges, laments the furlough’s toll on civilian employees, but he “would not comment on the gopher spending.”
Smart guy. He has enough overseas combat operations to worry about; no need to wage war with gophers here.
But Glen Morgan, of the Olympia-based Freedom Foundation, is not so circumspect. He told Fox he doesn’t think Mazama pocket gophers are all that special, though they’re pretty hardy; he claims they hold up well on JBLM’s artillery ranges.
So they’re immune to kaboom?
Here comes the Varmint Cong: Morgan’s theory might be tested if the South Sound is ever drawn into trench warfare with the fuzzy critters.
Woe to the pocket gopher that dares to tunnel under Chambers Bay golf course before the 2015 U.S. Open. Feel like you’re endangered now? We’ll show you endangered, pal.
Brings to mind that scene in “Caddyshack” when Bill Murray’s character (Carl Spackler) goes on a mission to kill the gopher that’s destroying the Bushwood Country Club greens. He even tries plastic explosives.
“To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit — ever,” Spackler says. “They’re like the Viet Cong — Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower. And that’s all she wrote.”
One out of two ain’t bad: Well, at least we have the superior firepower.
And now, the costumed critters: Mariners attendance is in the toilet – 26th lowest among 30 teams and down one-third from its peak in 2007.
But one Mariner remains in high demand.
According to the Wall Street Journal, among the three highest-per-hour rental fees for baseball mascots are Mr. Met, the Phillie Phanatic and the Mariner Moose at $600 each.
If you’re on a budget, we suggest Bernie Brewer at just $200.
Or if you don’t mind a minor leaguer, Tacoma’s own Rhubarb charges only $100 for his rare noncharity appearances.
Smells like a bomb to us: We missed the big Paula Poundstone show at The Pantages last Friday, but from a Tweet she sent, we wondered if the comic made a Tacoma Aroma joke that went over the noses of her audience.
“They must have fixed the smell in Tacoma a long time ago, because a lot of people there didn’t know it ever did smell. It’s for the best,” she told the Twittersphere.
Turns out it was just an observation. When we asked if it was a joke gone flat, Poundstone sent a reply that was short even for Twitter.
“No.”Got news for The Nose? Write to TheNose@thenewstribune.com Twitter: @thenosetribune