Prairie dog location, location, location.I agree with the ecosystem philosophy stated by the Prairie Dog Coalition Steering Committee member, Gunbarrel. However, Mr. X, Ms. Y and many others are missing the big and true point. The issue at hand is not for or against prairie dogs. It is all about location. Prairie versus residential.
It all depends on where you live. If you live in the middle of a city and there are no prairie dogs within miles of you then you have one perspective. If you live in the country and there are no prairie dogs within miles of you then you may have a perspective that is similar to that of the middle of the city dweller. If you live out on the prairie and there are no prairie dogs within tens of miles from you then you have an even different perspective. If you live on the outskirts of the city or in a residential area in the country and the prairie dogs are within twenty yards of your backyard, then you have quite a different perspective altogether.
My perspective is based on the fact that they live within twenty yards of my backyard fence. Hey, a few prairie dogs are no problem whatsoever, depending on the open area they are in, like the three hundred that are there right now. Just fine, no issue, no debate.
But, when they totally overpopulate the land they are designated to be in it becomes a problem and an issue. They can double their population each year. When they become thousands instead of a few hundred, eat up all the vegetation, denude the land, make it look like moon craters, spoil the scenery, create disgusting dust problems, create erosion, become a nuisance in your yard, have plague cycles, attract coyotes (that is never mentioned, raptors are wonderful), and you have to put up with it every day of your life, it becomes a huge problem and a major issue. Your personal quality of life diminishes.
They invade all areas around them as they travel over three miles looking for a new area to live so they can survive. They get hungry and they fight within their colonies for space. They are animals, rodents. They have no instinct of boundaries humans have given them to live within. They migrate to private property and cause a wildlife with humans conflict.
By the way, we have had raptors and an abundance of other wildlife in this area for as long as I can remember, with or without the prairie dogs. I took several pictures of a Red tail hawk downing a dove just two weeks ago in my front yard. It was amazing. There was another pile of feathers in my backyard a week later. I have pictures of a mallard duck in our back yard. He and his hen come back every year to hatch their ducklings. I have taken pictures of Peregrines, Turkey Buzzards, Coyotes, Red Fox, Squirrels, Racoons, a young White Tailed Deer, Owls, Eagles, lots of rabbits and various birds in and around our backyard. They do not need prairie dogs to survive. Our ecology system here is well balanced for a “residential” area. Gunbarrel is not the wild west.
There are forty-two homes along the west fringe of the Richardson II parcel of prairie dog land. There are four families on the east of the parcel on farmland. And then there is the Vinelife Church. We are the ones that have to put up with prairie dogs every day of our lives. We don't have to drive miles away to go watch the cute prairie dogs. We live with them, and I for one don't like it.
If there are people that object to our objections then I suggest they go live on the fringe of an overpopulated prairie dog town. Then we will see if they still tell me I have a negative attitude, I am being outrageous, uneducated, an activist, a hater of prairie dogs, an alarmist, that I have an attitude problem and all the other negative statements being made about those that do not want prairie dogs in their backyards, me. There is more, much more. You have to live it to appreciate it.
Within less than ten years, more like five, the Richardson II Open Space will look like it did in 2005 when there were 5,000 in their town (OSMP's own number), probably worse. That land was bought and paid for by the public, but the public does not use it. A well-built high-priced fence keeps humans out. The prairie dogs were killed off by the plague, leaving only a few. In the past three years they have multiplied to about three hundred. Nature has recovered the land with weeds. It is once again pleasant to look at from our windows and backyards, even though it is weeds.
I invite you to walk the Cottontail Trail between the Richardson II land and Gunbarrel Estates homes and see for yourself. I have taken pictures of the land as it looks today. I will be bringing out those pictures when it is barren and nothing but a dust bowl filled with prairie dog mounds, like it was in 2005. At that time I will be able to say, "See, I told you so." However, the damage will already have been done. I know, because I was here in 2005. It was disgusting. Go take a look at the land on the south side of Heatherwood, just across from the grade school. That is what it will look like.
It is interesting that there are about 200 people that are being directly affected by this relocation proposal, yet there are over 1,100 people that signed the petition against moving prairie dogs around the county. Also, there appear to be thousands more that are not in favor of relocating prairie dogs to a residential, heavily populated, urban area.