I read a letter to the editor in Monday's Salt Lake Tribune that struck a chord in me concerning the Bryce Canyon National Park's Utah Prairie Dog Research Activities Plan to get the Utah prairie dog listed as an endangered species.
I grew up on the prairies of Saskatchewan, a ranch that my grandparents carved out of a desert wasteland. They cared for the land and created a beautiful ranch, running several hundred head of black angus cattle. I have fond memories of riding the range and gathering the cattle as a young boy and teenager. A few years after my grandfather passed away the environmentalists successfully added the prarie dog to the endangered list in Saskatchewan. It became illegal to control the prairie dog populations and they grew from a few hundred to a thousands almost overnight. My brother was forced to move his cattle to higher ground and thousands of acres along the Milk River returned to the wasteland it once was in the depression.
I drove back through that area two years ago following my brother's funeral and was saddened to see hundreds of acres, overrun by prairie dogs and not a cow in sight. They may have saved the precious prairie dogs but they eliminated the ranchers and farmers from most of the region. The only animals I saw were a few antelope, lots of jack rabbits, coyotes, rattlesnakes and of course hundreds of prairie dog towns.
As the fellow pointed out in his letter, "A prairie dog is a prairie dog, be it listed as Bryce Canyon or San Rafael or Tule Valley. It is still a prairie dog."
Once it is listed as endangered and shows up on anyone's property, it is an endangered species and your land becomes worthless. Trust me it only takes a few years and your farm or ranch will be overrun.
Public comment is being invited at htt://www.nps.gov/brea or by calling 435-834-4901.
This isn't just about Bryce Canyon. Once it becomes listed it then becomes protected throughout Utah. Our ranchers and farmers have worked too hard to see their land overtaken by the prairie dog.