Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Monday, January 10, 2011
Experts weigh in on good and bad of prairie dogs
They weigh just 1 to 3 pounds and try to keep their presence on the down-low, but that’s not stopping area ranchers and land owners from grumbling about prairie dogs. The burrowing rodents known for their propensity to dig vast underground tunnel systems, eat grass and communicate through chirping barks are a cause for a continuing conflict between ranchers and land owners who fear prairie dogs damage their property and advocates — and even one developer — who see benefits from the prairie dog. Though numbering as many as 400 million in one 25,000-square mile “town” in West Texas, their numbers have dwindled since European descendants settled the area. They now compose only about 1 percent of their former numbers and take up only about 1 percent of their former habitat, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife. Though not a federally protected species, Driskill said she believes the prairie dog should be protected by conserving prairie land because of their beneficial role in their ecosystems. James Glasson, a 40-year-veteran veterinarian and owner of the Lockney Veterinary Clinic, said it’s three or four times a year on average that he’s asked to treat a horse whose leg fell down a prairie dog hole. Often the fall just bruises their leg, though sometimes the leg is broken, he said. “If they break a leg, they’re done,” he said, explaining the animals usually are euthanized after such a blow. Farr, who was raised on a 270-section ranch west of San Angelo, said prairie dog holes were an all-too-familiar hazard for him when herding cattle and sheep. He recalled one time he was herding cattle when the horse he rode tripped in a hole. He was thrown off the horse and into the ground. The horse, its leg crippled, proceeded to land on him, giving him a broken shoulder blade. “We hated prairie dogs,” he said. “And that’s the kind of thing that happens with prairie dog holes.”...more
Four...hundred...million...and they are still not satisfied.