Brother catches albino gopher
28 years after brother trapped one
Wednesday, September 03, 2008 5:15 AM
Many people never run into an albino animal in the wild, but two brothers trapped their second albino pocket gopher last week just west of Spring Valley.
Paul Schmidt holds the albino pocket gopher that brother Dan Schmidt trapped west of Spring Valley. Paul caught an albino gopher 28 years ago and it was donated to the Minnesota Zoo. They will likely donate this one, too.
It's been 28 years since the first albino pocket gopher was caught, but it is still a rare event. After the first one was trapped in 1980, the accomplishment was featured on the front page of the Spring Valley Tribune. Paul Schmidt, who caught the one in 1980, said that after the story was featured in the local newspaper, he started getting calls from zoos, including the San Diego Zoo, East Coast zoos and the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley, which ended up with the live albino after Schmidt donated it to the state zoo.
Brother Dan Schmidt wasn't in on the catch in 1980, although he heard plenty about it from classmates at school. The photo in the Tribune featured another brother, John, with Paul. This year it was Dan's turn to trap an albino pocket gopher. He caught it just 1.5 miles from where the previous one was trapped on the family farmstead west of Spring Valley.
Live trapping isn't so common anymore, but Dan still traps that way, meaning the newest albino is still alive, although it has a sprained foot. After most trappings, he turns the feet in for payment from farmers and townships.
"This one isn't going to the township, that's for sure," he said.
The Schmidts again plan to donate it to the Minnesota Zoo. The one from 1980, at death, was stuffed and mounted after living for several years at the zoo. The Schmidts were acknowledged on a plaque for trapping the albino, which is still on display.
This albino is much younger, probably born this spring, said Paul. The lifespan of pocket gophers is usually four to five years.