A Gopher Named Charlie

Posted by Pia

Last week I got what unfortunately is not an atypical urgent email regarding a young gopher who was in grave danger. But I assure you ahead of time that the tale has a happy and educational ending....

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The email from my friend Faye read,

1 The email from my friend Faye read, "Does anyone know how to get rodents off of glue traps????"

Faye is a fellow animal lover and advocate.

2 Faye is a fellow animal lover and advocate.

Faye's husband Ric, an aerial firefighter in Orange County, had discovered a small gopher still alive on a glue trap and was desperate to save him.

3 Faye's husband Ric, an aerial firefighter in Orange County, had discovered a small gopher still alive on a glue trap and was desperate to save him.

Whether those in danger have 2 legs or 4, Ric takes his responsibility to securing their safety seriously.

4 Whether those in danger have 2 legs or 4, Ric takes his responsibility to securing their safety seriously.

Ric does not discriminate when it comes to which lives are worth protecting from suffering.

5 Ric does not discriminate when it comes to which lives are worth protecting from suffering.

Coincidentally,  I had just recently discussed the dangers of glue traps with

6 Coincidentally, I had just recently discussed the dangers of glue traps with "Martha" television producer Barbara Fight. She shared that olive oil works to dissolve the glue!

Meanwhile, here's how Ric relates the story:

7 Meanwhile, here's how Ric relates the story: "My first call was to my wife Faye..."

8 "Faye not only shares my respect for life but has taught me more about the rewards of kindness to animals than I could ever have understood on my own."

9 "Within ten minutes of hearing my predicament, she had me in contact with wildlife expert Mary!" Ric says.

Mary had offered Faye the same advice I received from Barbara, but with vegetable oil. Mary also told her that glue traps are now illegal in Australia, as they were deemed inhumane.

10 Mary had offered Faye the same advice I received from Barbara, but with vegetable oil. Mary also told her that glue traps are now illegal in Australia, as they were deemed inhumane.

Mary, who has helped thousands of wild animals, told Ric what to do. (For complete instructions, see the link at the end of this post.)

11 Mary, who has helped thousands of wild animals, told Ric what to do. (For complete instructions, see the link at the end of this post.)

Ric was able to use the oil technique to release the helpless animal.

12 Ric was able to use the oil technique to release the helpless animal. "He didn’t move for nearly an hour," he says. "I concluded that it was a young gopher and not a mouse or rat for which the trap had been intended."

Our friend Gina was willing to come to the fire station and continue caring for the injured gopher,

13 Our friend Gina was willing to come to the fire station and continue caring for the injured gopher," Ric continues. "I wondered if he was too badly injured and agonized what to do."

14 "When Gina arrived, I was overjoyed! It was obvious that she was a true believer. There is a distinctive quality true to individuals that hold a passion for animals. It is easily recognizable amongst those who cultivate a respect for life. "

15 "I knew I could trust Gina to become the young gopher’s advocate," Ric says. "Together, she and Mary would surely give him the care they had given so many in need."

16 "Just before Gina arrived, I was relieved to see my gopher friend become more active. He was now on all four legs attempting to clean himself! Here he is just a day later."

17 "I began to see triumph from what had so far only been tragedy."

Ric, the firefighter who saved Charlie from the glue trap eloquently describes the experience in his own words:

To tell the story of Charlie, you need to know a little about my motivation.

I've been a fire fighter/paramedic for over 26 years. In that time, I've witnessed the full cycle of life from delivering premature babies struggling for their first breath to holding the hand of an old man in the hopes of providing comfort while he experienced his last gasp.

I've had the privilege of rescuing both man and beast from harm's way and experienced the heartache of the aftermath when harm had its way. I've gained a deep appreciation for the temperament of life – not just human, but of all life – and I've learned to respect the capacity for all beings to experience pain and the emotions of fear and self preservation.

I've proudly endured the ridicule of my co-workers who labeled me the "PETamedic" after performing CPR on a dog or finding a home for a pet orphaned at the scene of a 911 incident.

I am an unabashed enthusiast of all forms of life. While I may not be compliant with environmental harmony at all times, I strive to become so whenever I'm granted the wisdom to know better.

At my last assigned fire station, I employed humane "live" rodent traps -- the same as we use at home. Throughout a 24-hour shift I would spend ten minutes at a time checking the traps and moving any "detainees" to a holding cage that I would empty in a remote canyon on my way home.

Two months ago I was assigned to a different fire station. Upon arrival my first day, I noticed that the pest control company contracted there used glue traps scattered throughout the building. I immediately picked up all the traps and threw them away.

Recently, after being off work for a week, I returned to the station to find that the glue traps had been returned during my absence. While picking up the traps, I was horrified to find what appeared to be a dead animal stuck in one of the traps.

As I came closer to remove the trap, I noticed the animal move slightly and realized he was not dead. It was evident he'd tried hard to free himself for some time. Having received instructions on how to use vegetable oil to dissolve the glue, I spent the next hour methodically removing him from the glue trap.

After finally freeing him, I awaited the arrival of our friend Gina, who would transport him to the care of licensed wildlife rehabilitator Mary Cummins.

The next day, my wife, Faye, called me to her computer and merely said “There's your boy” as she showed me a picture of the gopher, now named Charlie. His eyes were open and bright! Charlie was in good hands and it was hopeful that he would be successfully returned to a natural habitat.

Here he is today, safe and regaining his strength.

My response to any argument of why I use humane traps is simply that I respect the effort of life and don't mind the occasional "inconvenience" inherent in peacefully coexisting with other beings -- no matter what their form.

Charlie doesn't deserve the agony inflicted by a glue trap, especially when acceptable alternatives exist. I let my vigilance lapse and nearly suffered my conscience as a result -- which is not nearly as bad as what Charlie suffered. I hope others find motivation in my experience and strive to abolish the use of the glue trap and other similarly cruel devices.

Until we as humans fully exercise our ability to make benevolent decisions at the daily opportunities we're provided we can't hope to achieve our full potential.

After all, isn't that what every being is struggling to do in our short time here? - Ric Schultz

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Beautifully said, Ric!
Thank you so very much for sharing this experience with Daily Wag readers and myself.

In kinship,
Dr. Pia Salk
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PS: Here are the instructions for freeing an animal from a glue trap. For more info on humane trapping, release and exclusion methods of rodent control, visit MSPCA.com.

PPS: Non-profit Wildlife rehabilitation groups like the one who helped Charlie rely on donations to support their life saving efforts!

Comments (13)

  • Ric, you found the right person. Mary Cummins is the best and I'm pretty sure she has angel wings tho they might be invisible. She does great work for any animal in need.

  • Hello ladies, Kirby here.
    I usually don’t like the rain, but I wish it would rain a little. The pollen is so thick around here that just walking in the outside stirs up a cloud of yellow dust. Every time I go outside I bring some of it back inside with me. Mommy and daddy keep sneezing and looking at me as the one who is causing the problem. But what the heck, I’m only a dog and doing what dogs do; mainly run in and out all day long. It hasn’t been warm enough here to make the air conditioner run, so I stay outside most of the time on the back porch watching for squirrels. I think that being gone for ten days, and no food for them, has caused them to move on elsewhere. Only one is coming around and he runs every time I just look at him. Daddy says that I am giving him “the evil eye” whatever that is.
    Catch you later, Kirby.

  • Faye and Ric you are Angels, as well as all the other's mentioned..God Bless you all.
    All God's created animals should have a fair chance in life!
    A couple of years ago I was shopping in a Home Depot and found a baby pigeon in the parking lot and people were trying to run over it, I dropped my scarf over it and put it in a paperbag and brought it home, no one wanted to take it cause it was "just" a pigeon...I took it home and raised it till it was grown, adjusting it to outdoor life, feeding and flying, then returned it to the park adjoining the HD, I think of the little pigeon everytime I pass the store and park.
    My feral cat would see the pigeon in the cat cage in the daytime outside, eventhough Kitty still was a hunter, when I said NO she never touched the cage.
    I cried releasing "Pigge"

    Thanks for Sharing Dr.Pia!

  • Hello Dr. Pia and F & S,
    It is a rainy, blustery day here in Lakewood, Colorado. Good for the garden Mom says. It was so nice to hear Charlie's story. Thanks to Ric and Ms. Cummings. Those glue trap guys should have to spend a day in time out. I hate hearing the bad stuff, but always cry at the happy endings. A happy cry.
    Happy Earth Day all!!!!!
    Love & licks,
    Basil

  • I was appalled the first time I saw a glue trap many years ago. The world of "neat, clean & no-touch" isn't any better than setting the old traps. Good for Australia.

  • Thanks to everyone who helped rescue the gopher. It's wonderful when people work together to help animals. Thanks to Pia also for writing the article. People need to know that glue traps are inhumane. Keep up your great work educating the public about animal issues.

  • Thanks for the heartwarming story about Charlie. I'm so thankful that he recovered from his glue trap ordeal! Thanks for educating everyone about the inhumane nature of glue traps, which should be illegal in the U.S.

  • Hi Dr. Pia, This was a superb blog! I absolutely love what Ric, Faye, Mary and Gina did to save that beautiful little gopher. I don't know why some people feel OK by putting out those horrible glue traps. How would they feel if they were stuck on one or maybe one of their animals was? Obviously, those people don't care about anyone but themselves. I luckily was able to save 2 baby Blue Jays several years ago. It was about 11:30 at night and I heard the little birds squaking loudly in my backyard. I went out to see what the problem was and found that they had fallen out of their nest and their mother was nowhere to be found. I brought them inside and set them on a towel on a box with a cover. I gave them some water, but didn't know what to feed them. The next morning, I called my Vet and was forwarded to a person who takes care of such birds. She was at my house in no time at all and her kids had food to give the hungry birds. Their mother never returned. The little birds were released later and did really well. I sure sweet little Charlie grew up and lived a happy life! Jan

  • hello everyone - thank you all so much for your care and concern for Charlie. I wanted to let you all know that he was successfully released back into the wild today. He was released on the edge of an active gopher colony that has established itself in and around a patch of prickly pear cactus - perfect cover from predators, with a nice root system to help support the gopher tunnels. He ran straight to an abandoned tunnel and dashed down it, and I'm sure he's busy right now making it into his home. Thanks to all of you who made this possible for Charlie!

  • Thank you to Ric and Faye and Gina and Mary for being so willing to help this tiny creature! Hurray for Charlie! What a great day it will be and a giant step forward when glue traps and the like are outlawed and our society moves forward to respect and to help all creatures(human and non-human)and to include even the smallest among us such as Charlie.Thanks again!.....Sherry

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  • AWWWW!!! Thats sooo awesome!

  • The way to get a lizard, or whatever, off of a glue trap is to liberally spray with WD-40. You can wash it off after its free if you can and/or want to.

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