Letter to the Editor

Read and learn

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Dear Editor,

In reference to Kati Ladenburger's letter of June 21 ("Prairie Dogs, C.O.D."), I am actually a scientist with a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology. I have extensive field experience with a wide range of rodent species including the maligned nutria. Although Ms. Ladenburger is correct that I have yet to conduct a formal field study on prairie dogs, I have researched them extensively.

As such, I am keenly interested in any hard data of cattle that have been injured by prairie dog holes because all of my research reveals no substantial records.

The citation for the economic analysis pf prairie dog control is as follows: Collins, A.R. et al. 1984. An economic analysis of black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) control. Journal of Range Management 37(4): 358 -- 361.

Prairie dogs are among the most slowly reproducing rodents. They only begin to reproduce at the age of two years and they only have an average of about 3 young per litter. Prairie dogs are also currently found on less than 2 percent of their historic range (see The Wild Mammals of North America: Biology, Management and Conservation, second edition).

I can get you copies of over a dozen scientific articles spanning the past 50 years that prove that prairie dogs are much more likely to colonize areas that have already been overgrazed by livestock or wild ungulates. I can also give you innumerable articles concerning the sharp population declines of this species due to relentless, unfounded human persecution over the past 100 years or more.

Although it is true that I have yet to conduct studies on prairie dogs, I do know a lot about what is already known about this intriguing species. I suggest that anyone who has a feeling either way towards these animals take the time to read and learn before passing judgment and making unsubstantiated claims.


Dr. L.E. Nolfo-Clements

via e-mail

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: