For a rodent, they are undeniably cute. But to farmers and ranchers, they’re a horrible pest. Where there are prairie dogs, agricultural output decreases 25-85%. (*1)
Yavapai County once had 1.5 million acres “infested” with prairie dogs. (*2) When Prescott’s airport was first being laid-out, workers “went up and down both runways with shovels leveling the mounds and filling up the holes made by the hundreds of prairie dogs that infested the field.”(*3)
So, what happened to them?
“It must be remembered,” the newspaper wrote, “that these rodents destroy a vast amount of forage, which, if saved, could be used for the production of beef and mutton. In many cases, the prairie dogs permanently injure the range by eating the roots of plants which bind the soil and prevent erosion. In many localities, the destruction of plant life has been caused by extensive washing away of the soil after the summer rains.” (*4)
“To ranchmen and orchardists over a large part of the west…they are only too well known through the damage they do and the difficulty of eradicating them. In Northern Arizona, the damage they do is often keenly felt.” (*5)