Boulder CO has the reputation of being the Santa Monica of the Rockies. (Or come to that, the Austin TX.) Home to tea company Celestial Seasonings, and hundreds of thousands of almost unbelievably well meaning people, it is so concerned about the least vulnerable members of society that it's building a giant fence to protect them. Who are they keeping out? INS agents? Planned Parenthood 'doctors'?
No, actually this mini-Berlin Wall is designed to protect prairie dogs. The critters are such pests that the Boulder Little League teams have had to abandon five of their playing fields and use school fields (that haven't yet been infested) instead. But nonetheless (as detailed in a charming front page story in the weekend WSJ) Boulder has banned any extermination of prairie dogs in the county.
Neighboring counties aren't so prairie dog-friendly, however. Broomfield County has been exterminating prairie dogs that move into populated areas, and generally for good reason: they breed like rats and they carry disease, as well as digging up any expanse of grass in sight. This is too much for the kind hearts of Boulder County, however. They're constructing fence along the border with Broomfield County in order to keep erstwhile prairie dogs from wandering into the killing zones. It's been tricky, though. The prairie dogs have a keen sense of manifest destiny and have so far managed to evade any attempt to keep them bottled up in Boulder.
And people wonder why animal rights advocates are sometimes accused of being silly...
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