A recent article in the Tribune on prairie dogs is a masterpiece of misrepresentation, deliberate falsehoods and deception.
Prairie dogs are described as benign and appealing rodents with a positive effect on native grasslands. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are in reality a cancer on the prairie destroying valuable rangeland. The appearance of an active colony is a sickening sight. Picture acres of holes and mounds of extracted soil, little if any vegetation; an area devoid of value. Animals instinctively avoid these areas for fear of breaking a leg. The article was obviously written from a Forest Service perspective. For a realistic opinion, ask any rancher who knows about the dogs. I have a section of prime farmland located in the Badlands on an ancient terrace above the Little Missouri River. In recent years two colonies of prairie dogs from adjacent Forest Service land have encroached on the section, digging hundreds of holes, causing extensive crop damage and degrading the value of the land. I have used poison as a control method but it's of limited effect when the "government" dogs keep coming through the fence.
My complaints to the Forest Service were ignored until I engaged our congressional delegation in Washington. The Forest Service agreed there is a problem on widespread federal grasslands and contrived a plan that will take years to implement. The plan consists of 171 pages, most of which is irrelevant.
The Forest Service sees the dog as an integral part of a grassland ecosystem. It should by its nature as an aggressive and uniquely destructive rodent be consigned and limited to established parks.
Incredibly, the Forest Service intends to substantially increase the range of the dogs over time on public land. Imagine your doctor telling you that cancer is good for you.
Richard Kukowski, Beach