View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Thursday, March 25, 2004

Common Sense Prevails 

Not too often anymore that you get to write that about a judicial ruling, especially from Boulder. A Boulder judge has decided to allow the Boulder District schools to poison the prairie dogs currently inhabiting runs on school grounds. The Rocky Mountain Animal Defense (Motto: "We R-MAD") had brought suit claiming that the State Constitution specifically forbade the poisoning of the animals, and of the collateral damage that would be caused to other animals in the runs and up the food chain.

Now I don't know about you, but I always figured that people were about as far up the food chain as it got. And the first time some budding Babe Ruth tore up a knee stepping in one of the holes, a legion of angry parents would show up with torches and subpoenas demanding to know what this rodent construction site was doing on school grounds.

More than that, prairie dogs carry a little something called r-a-b-i-e-s. My dog has to have a triennial rabies shot, which should tell you that the disease hasn't yet gone the way of smallpox and polio. The treatments for rabies are extremely painful, although effective, and since there's no human test for the disease, you have to catch and kill the animal involved to determine if it was infected. "Okay, son, settle down. Now can you give us a description of the animal?" Part of the reason we can kill prairie dogs without much second thought is that their genetic variation is, shall we say, somewhat limited. Probably nothing that a sketch artist could go on. Go out to a field, take a look at the cute little vermin, and then ask yourself if you could pick on out of a lineup. (This is different from picking one off from a lineup. That's a time-honored sport out here.) Which means that as soon as the first child, dog, cat, school science project, got bitten, they'd have to pretty much go in and wipe out the tunnel system, anyway.

The next time one of these guys tells you they're doing anything "for the kids," ask them why they didn't think of it sooner. See what happens when judges rule on the law?

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