Die Prairie Dog, Die. The Forest Service decides to be a good neighbor.

They're pets in Japan.

And if you hadn't noticed, we're not in Japan. We're in South Dakota where the prairie dog is an unchecked pest which ravages the countryside with the full approval of conservationists who have never set foot on farms where a once productive field looks like the surface of the moon.

I had heard that this was coming a few days ago, but with this press release, it's now a fact. The U.S. Forest Service is actually going to start managing the prairie dogs on lands entrusted to it, as related in the Rapid City Journal:
After years of complaints from ranchers that prairie dogs were ruining federal grazing lands and encroaching onto their private land, the Forest Service late last year began poisoning prairie dogs in buffer zones between the national grasslands and adjacent private rangeland.

The Forest Service on Monday said its new effort is needed to further manage prairie-dog populations to protect soil, water and vegetation resources, which it said have been overused by prairie dogs, especially during recent drought.


“By destroying the prairie dog, the Forest Service is further endangering the black- footed ferret, one of the West’s great Endangered Species Act success stories,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and now executive vice president of Defenders of Wildlife. “Taxpayers who have paid millions for black-footed ferret recovery in Conata Basin will now be forced to pay to destroy much-needed ferret habitat,” Clark said.

However, Fall River County State’s Attorney Lance Russell, who has represented ranchers and area counties on the prairie dog issue, hailed the government’s most recent action.

“This is just wonderful news,” Russell said Monday. “This is what the grazers have been asking for from the very beginning: for the Forest Service to address the management of the prairie-dog populations throughout the grasslands, including the interiors.”

The ranchers filed an appeal over the buffer-zone plan last year, saying it wouldn’t do enough to prevent prairie dogs from damaging the grasslands and encroaching onto private land.

Russell said the ranchers had prepared to sue the government but instead worked with Sen. John Thune’s staff in seeking a solution. “Frankly, that paid off. The Bush administration finally realized that something had to be done,” he said.

“This is an indication of what those ranchers have been saying for six years. This is a recognition that there is a problem and that they need to find a solution.”
Read it all here. The issue is not that ranchers want to destroy wildlife. For many of them, The problem for several of them is that they live on land bordered by forest service land. Even if they eliminate prairie dog towns on their lands, the dogs from the forest service land just move in from those areas.

It's like having a neighbor with dogs who won't stop digging up your yard. Unless the neighbor does something about it, you can patch it all you want, but it's still going to be dug up.


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