Magazine article Insight on the News

Should Prairie Dogs Pay Rent?

Magazine article Insight on the News

Should Prairie Dogs Pay Rent?

Article excerpt

Thanks and a tip of the hat to the rancher and Insight reader who sent along a note about a situation that's bugging him -- or, in this case, dogging him. Western ranchers in general are upset about a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or FWS, proposal to add the black-tailed prairie dog to the endangered-species list.

Prairie dogs burrow and clip grass -- two activities that rank them as unwelcome pests, as far as ranchers are concerned. An opposing view notes the little rodents "support" other wildlife which, in at least some cases, means they provide dinner for predators such as the black-footed ferret, ferruginous hawk and swift fox. They also have a tendency to migrate, excavating new colony sites and leaving the old ones as nesting sites for various wildlife, including burrowing owls.

The FWS has been taking comment from the public prior to a possible listing. The process is continuing despite an early FWS finding that the species -- population estimated at 10 million to 12 million -- is not about to go out of existence. …

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