From our Mailbox: Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs not the real victims here
April 14, 2006
Dear Editor: It has been several days since I read an article concerning the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Habitat Incentive Program. I expected someone involved in agriculture to respond, so I guess someone who loves and cares for our land should.
Having farmed and ranched my entire life in northeastern Colorado, it is very discouraging to hear that people with money and influence have persuaded government agencies to enact a payment program to support a grassland pest, the black tailed prairie dog, in the name of conservation. This surely is not the conservation of our beautiful productive farm and grasslands that our parents and grandparents fought so hard to bring into meaningful production.
Without control, these prairie dogs will render thousands and thousands of acres useless and drive more hardworking agriculturists out of business and off of their lands. Prairie dogs are truly a plague on the plains. Constructive and common sense conservation seems to have gone the way of “political correctness” nonsense. Even the rape of our agricultural land by the prairie dogs is now applauded by many of our city cousins, who have been fed by most of the media into thinking the prairie dogs improve and conserve the soil.
That is rot! I challenge any wildlife such as deer, elk, or antelope to try and live on grass within a prairie dog colony. Sure, they preach that the grass within a colony contains more nutrients per pound of forage; they just fail to mention there is very little or no edible forage left.
It also becomes a hardship on the neighbors, as once a prairie dog colony becomes established, they travel pretty good distances to start another colony ” hence on a neighbor’s property. Prairie dogs are hard and costly to control and do not stay within fenced areas.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) has gone far beyond trying to conserve the Black Tailed Prairie Dog; they are now trying to list it as an “endangered species.” Here in Stoneham, Colo., there are many areas running rampant with these “cute little critters.” It becomes very difficult to see how the CDOW can say the Black Tailed Prairie Dog is becoming endangered, with the infestations here in northeastern Colorado, and anywhere one drives around the front range.
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Maybe someone without a political agenda should take a polling of acres ruined by these pests. Just guessing, the acres and numbers are far greater than what is being reported. Tim Davis, private lands coordinator for the CDOW, said in the article that the Plover tends to inhabit areas where the prairie dogs live; he failed to mention that livestock grazing also greatly helps keep grass conducive for Plover development. It must have been an oversight, huh?
“The incentive program recognizes the important role the prairie dogs play in Colorado’s prairies ecosystems,” said Catherine Johnson, regional director of the National Wildlife Federation in Boulder. When and where will these “conservationists” recognize the importance of the rancher and farmer ” the ones who feed the people, make a living on this land, and recognize the land’s real productive value, and who for the most part are probably the real conservationists?
We are the ones most likely to become endangered with this type of reasoning.
I could go on and write a few more quotes from the article, but the main idea is to let all know the seriousness of allowing or even promoting the growth of the Black Tailed Prairie Dog. As of now, even without this “incentive,” the pests are taking over many acres of productive agricultural land. Only the land speculators, people who have no love of their land, ones who dislike their neighbors, or prairie dog conservationists need apply. I have always wondered how many of these radical conservationists would like to own some of these grasslands, have these pests take over, then try to make their living off these very lands.
Doing my best to conserve the land and live here too …