Sunday, February 5, 2012

nom nom nom

Prairie dogs are:

a) cute little critters and an important part of the prairie ecosystem

b) a damaging pest of pastures and fields with their digging and such.

Of course the correct answer is c) all of the above. Unfortunately Prairie Dogs are also a host of bubonic plague which gives the anti-prairie dog campaigners (mainly farmers and ranchers) a pretty powerful argument:

"They need to be managed when they are overpopulated, you want to remember, when they get overpopulated, they have a tendency to have bubonic plague. And bubonic plague is contagious to people."

Hence Bill LB473 before the Nebraska Legislature that would give counties the power and duties to carry out a management program to help control the animals.

What is missing from the disease argument though is whether an increase in the levels of bubonic plague in prairie dog populations ever actually leads to cases in humans.

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