While the press seems to be smitten with an 88-year-old South Dakota man who claims to have destroyed thousands of gophers, we think his supposed trapping record is an atrocity.

Clayton Sanders’ claim of being a prolific hunter, snaring 22,000 gophers, and earning money from it for the front paws he hands over to land owners, should bring no rewards and certainly no kudos. 

Though Sanders supposed record drew headlines across the country, what the media didn’t spotlight is that gopher populations are dwindling. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources has listed the gopher population as of “concern.” It’s also listed the Michoacan Pocket Gopher as endangered and the Desert Pocket Gopher as threatened.

Gophers live almost their entire lives underground, popping out of their burrows just for vegetarian meals. They store food inside their cheeks in fur-lined pockets. Their tunnels are used for nesting of their baby “pups” and food storage.

So, while Sanders is winning accolades for smoking gopher families out of their homes and killing them, we are aghast at his contribution to their demise.