Turnips and Tusas

We are so kind. We share our turnips with tusas: the Naked-nosed pocket gopher.

Tusas are animals that most gardeners in Michoacán dread. They dig up gardens ruthlessly, leaving behind the signature mound of turned over soil. Some of our friends who have farms or gardens buy Jack Russell Terriers, dogs that are known for their hunting skills, hoping to kill off any tusas that are feeding in their gardens. Another friend of ours makes extra money by charging farmers 100 pesos (around 8 USD) per tusa that he kills. He waits patiently, quietly, lurking around areas where a tusa has obviously set up camp.

We haven’t taken drastic measures to control the tusa population this year. We do plant trees and bushes that have a bitter taste around some gardens, hoping to deter the tusas away from our vegetables. But mostly, we are just waiting.

Patiently waiting, for natural predators to realize that the Bosque has lots of yummy gophers running around. Coyotes, which we can hear singing nearly every evening, likely already take care of some of the gopher problem without us even knowing. And we over-plant; sharing some of our bounty with gophers and rabbits is something we expect when we plant a garden.

And, an upside, when tusas dig up dirt alongside a trail or in a garden, we sow seeds in the freshly tilled soil. Lots of former tusa holes now hold trees, flowers, and edible plants growing happily. And if we ever investigate hunting for food, the tuza might be a good target.

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