Letter to the Editor

Relocate prairie dogs instead

Friday, June 9, 2006

Dear Editor,

In regard to prairie dogs, ("County signs predator control contract," June 6, 2006), these animals inhabit less than 2 percent of their original range in all of the U.S.

As a keystone species, the prairie dog provides homes and food for a number of other species that inhabit their burrow systems including burrowing owls and swift foxes.

Prairie dogs do not compete for food sources with livestock or other native species. In fact, prairie dogs prefer areas that have been overgrazed by livestock or other grazers.

Poisoning prairie dogs and destroying their burrows are ineffective ways of dealing with this species. Not only is poisoning hazardous to other wildlife and domesticated animals, research has shown it is neither economically viable nor effective.

Burrow destruction and filling does nothing to deter recolonization. The county should consider relocation or barrier construction as alternatives.

The citizens of Red Willow County need to reconsider the plight of the prairie dog. This animal, once a major component of native grassland habitats, has been reduced to a despised "varmint."

Such views reflect an unwillingness to coexist with nature and an intolerance for anything perceived as inconvenient, traits that no one should be proud to exhibit.

Dr. Lauren Nolfo Clements

Humane Society of the United States

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