"CLOVIS - City commissioners have approved a plan to poison prairie dogs in a Clovis park.
The Portales News-Tribune reported that Clovis city commissioners on Friday approved an emergency budget transfer to purchase 250 containers of Rozol rodenticide to reduce the population of prairie dogs at Ned Houk Park.
The move came after several landowners near the park pressured commissioners about the burrowing rodents.
Resident Glenn Eagle said the prairie dogs have eaten his oat crop in the past, and he's worried they will eat the oats again this spring. He said the rodents are destroying the park by eating the grass and making erosion problems worse.
But Clovis resident Susan Hubby says she was concerned about the long-term effects of Rozol on the park's ecosystem."
I'm starting to collect snippets about prairie dogs. They're interesting creatures, and humans tend to regard them in one of two extreme ways: as dangerous pests to be eradicated, or as cute fur balls to be serenaded by Tibetan monks.
Interesting: Gunnison's prairie dogs, the kind we have here in Santa Fe, have 40 diploid chromosomes, whereas all other species have 50.
Also interesting: prairie dog species can vary quite a bit in appearance and vocalization. Compare this excellent, up-close view of some Denver-based black-tailed prairie dogs, by Yuta Murai, with these clips I took of a small Gunnison's colony here in Santa Fe.
Also interesting, and exemplary of extreme human attitudes toward prairie dogs, is the history of their association with bubonic plague. Some people think they "carry" plague and other deadly diseases such as hanta virus. In fact they suffer from plague, which can quickly wipe out almost 100% of a colony; but they don't carry it from place to place as rats do. And they don't carry hanta virus, or spread it in their droppings.
There's plenty more to write about human attitudes toward prairie dogs (and how we invent myths to justify those attitudes), about their "keystone species" status, etc.
Further Reading / Viewing:
- "City approves prairie dog poison", Portales News-Tribune, 1 March 2013
- "Tibetan Monks on U.S. Tour Take Moment to Bless Critters", Albuquerque Journal North, 10 August 2008.
- Animal Diversity Web
- "Prairie dogs", by Yuta Murai
- "Prairie Dogs", by yours truly
- "Man charged with shooting at prairie dogs", Santa Fe New Mexican, 13 August 2012
- "Gunnison's Prairie Dog", Endangered Species of the Mountain-Prairie Region: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services
- "Interspecific Comparisons of Sylvatic Plague in Prairie Dogs", Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 82, No. 4, November, 2001.
- "Recovery and Restoration of the Black-footed Ferret (Mustela nigripes)", American Society of Mammalogists
- "Resolution on the Decline of Prairie Dogs and the Grassland Ecosystem in North America", American Society of Mammalogists