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Navajo-Hopi Observer | Flagstaff, Arizona

home : opinions : opinions August 27, 2015


5/14/2013 11:11:00 AM
Letter to the editor: Prairie dogs are a health risk on the Reservation

To the editor:

Population explosion of prairie dogs: are they an endangered species?

Just recently, while passing through the Eastern Navajo reservation, to our surprise we came across numerous live prairie dogs roaming across the roads and peering at us as they sat at the entrance of their underground homes. There were too many to count or even to take a picture, as they were moving about too fast.

This infestation location is our famous Crystal, N.M. Even on the school grounds, we noticed these huge lively critters darting everywhere into the old abandoned chapterhouse, trading post and even the lawn of the local church. We spoke to the local chapter house representative who said, "no one is going to do anything about the situation." I asked if it was dangerous because prairie dogs cause plague or Black Death.

Later we were informed that the prairie dogs were considered endangered species. But they are also edible if they are well cooked and they are sold for two dollars locally and considered safe. Also, the first time the prairie dogs were getting closer to the chapter house property and they were around the last two years.

My question is, why are our Health Department or tribal officials not addressing this situation? No one is seen out in the fields trying to eradicate the infestation. No precaution signs are posted. There is only one sign that reads "Keep Navajo Land Beautiful" posted at the entrance road to Crystal.

Why are we waiting until humans are found dying or sick because of bubonic plague? The fleas on the prairie dogs carry the deadly bubonic plague, which is then transmitted to humans. Where are our teachers and people who care about the health of the Navajo population? We need action! See for yourself. What we saw was gross.

Rosemary J. Gorman

Tuba City, Ariz.


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