The Washington Post talks about prairie dogs today
For years, South Dakota politicians from both parties have championed the ranchers' cause, questioning why prairie dogs should be allowed to prosper at the expense of private landowners who hold federal grazing permits. As recently as April 26, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) asked Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to guarantee financial compensation to people whose livelihoods are affected by the reintroduction of the black-footed ferret to Wind Cave National Park.Read it all here.
The U.S. Forest Service, which manages federal grasslands, approved a management plan in 2002 that made black-footed ferrets and prairie dogs a priority. Two years later, as the drought deepened and prairie dog populations expanded, the agency permitted poisoning to stop them from burrowing onto private land.
"We were trying to be good neighbors," said Don Bright, the agency's Nebraska-based regional director.
A group of environmental groups sued. A settlement created a buffer zone where U.S. authorities deposit poisoned oats. Yet few were satisfied. Bright said a continuing study led to the current environmental impact report.
The report is expected to say that prairie dog colonies can be further restricted on federal land without posing a new threat to the ferrets, then lays out five alternatives, including one designed by the South Dakota and Nebraska governments and one by local officials, Bright said Friday in a telephone interview. He described them as a spectrum of options, from doing nothing new to poisoning a relatively large number of acres in the grasslands' interior.