Urban Fold

Prairie Dogs And Property Values

In rural Kansas, a fight continues over a 5,500-acre prairie dog colony. Some ranchers and environmental groups want to preserve the area, while many property owners and local officials advocate eradication.

"Two ranchers, Larry Haverfield and Gordon Barnhardt, and their allies in two environmental groups want the 5,500-acre colony on their property to flourish, for the good of the land and for the eventual delectation of black-footed ferrets. The ferrets, an endangered mammal, thrive on a diet of prairie dogs."

"The ranchers' defense of prairie dogs prompted bewilderment then anger in this county of about 3,100 people. Here in this red corner of a red state, where the sanctity of property rights is seldom questioned and the sanity of the government is questioned all the time, the prairie dog debate has turned everything upside down."

"This confrontation is one of several in recent years across the West that pit property owners trying to restore wildlife against local governments who see the actions as a threat to local economic interests. It also reflects the persistent belief in the Great Plains that the prairie dog is not a valued remnant of the short-grass prairie of the past, but a despised pest that eats grass needed to fatten cattle."

Full Story: In Kansas, a Line Is Drawn Around a Prairie Dog Town

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