Interview of Deanna Meyer ― Resistance Radio

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(sound of prairie dog)

Hi, I’m Derrick Jensen and this is Resistance Radio on the Progressive Radio Network. My guest today is Deanna Meyer. She is a long-time environmental activist and is a member of Deep Green Resistance and is also the founder and executive director of Prairie Protection Colorado. Much of her work centers on the protection and preservation of prairie dog communities up and down Colorado’s Front Range. We’re going to talk about prairie dogs and we’re also going to talk about some of the threats to them and other wildlife.

So first, thank you for your work, and second, thank you for being on the program.

DM: Well thank you so much for having me. I always enjoy these talks.

DJ: Me, too. So the first question is that when we hear organizations with names like Fish and Wildlife, or Fish and Game, or Wildlife Services, we would generally tend to think that those are our friends, because wildlife services should be serving wildlife. But it is often not true. So can you talk about the reality of many of these organizations?

DM: Definitely. In our work in protecting prairie dogs, we become really familiar with what these organizations really do. And what they do is kill. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is our state department of wildlife organization. And everybody has initially the impression that Colorado Parks and Wildlife would be an organization who would be very devoted to protecting wildlife within the State of Colorado and to preserve land in the form of parks, and that they’re these people who care about wildlife. And then when you start to understand what they do, you get a completely different picture, and it shocks people. And people do get very upset when they find out, like, for instance, what we have been working on in the past few months, that Colorado Parks and Wildlife actively poisons prairie dogs throughout their state parks. And they poison coyotes everywhere. They’re killing mountain lions and bears right now. And they really are driven and funded by the state but also hunters are a big part of their finances. So all these organizations get funds in order to exist. As with all bureaucracies, they have to be able to secure money.

So when we go back to the federal agencies, it’s like Wildlife Services now. They originally started out underneath, just as a part of a bureau, their origins – it was called the Biological Survey. And this organization was a governmental organization that was just kind of there to advise on wildlife matters. And soon their poisoning campaign, the need to kill wildlife became so strong that they morphed off. They became the, they were still the Bureau of Biological Survey. But they created another group called Predatory Animal and Rodent Control. Which is kind of like what they were. I mean, you would expect – at that time it was accepted in the public for predators to be completely annihilated, and rodents too. So they started that out. And then as that went on and they were getting funding to kill by the millions, in the 1920’s, they were getting like one to two million dollars a year to kill animals with poison. And then they ended up being called Animal Damage Control in the 30’s, and then they ended up changing their name when science starts coming out and saying, more and more people started saying “You know, it’s probably not smart to just throw strychnine and cyanide out all over millions and millions of acres of land,” and, y’know, this is not sound science. It doesn’t make any sense. And then when they started getting pushback they switched, they started operating underneath Wildlife Services. So it was Fish and Wildlife Services and then underneath them was the Animal Damage Control unit, which would go out and kill. And then you watched that change because during Carter, when Carter was president, he started pushing back again and providing protections for animals, and then when Reagan took office in 1982 they just changed the whole Animal Damage Control, they changed everything and just started calling it Wildlife Services. And they put that under the Division of Agriculture and under APHIS, which is Animal and Plant Health Inspection.

And they did that very purposefully to trick the public. And they admitted that. You see that they have talked about that and said “Let’s call the whole thing, let’s just take everything out that would give any indication to the public that we kill predators or rodents and let’s call it Wildlife Services. That way we can be able to still kill more animals than ever, and we won’t look so bad.”

So that’s just one example. Almost any wildlife official or organization that I have seen that comes under inner government is really there to kill native wildlife.

DJ: Can you give any hint of the scale of these programs?

DM: Yeah. In the 1880’s they started poisoning en masse. That’s when they really started poisoning prairie dogs. They’ve always tried – a little bit before then they really started to hammer on coyotes and wolves. But they started using strychnine and cyanide in bait forms. So for coyotes and wolves and mountain lions and bears, and all the predator species, they would kill wild horses, or horses, and they would inject all the meat with strychnine. And then the strychnine would kill, but it didn’t last very long because the coyotes would figure it out. It had a strong almond smell and the deaths were horrific. So as soon as they ate a piece of meat, immediately after they would start convulsing and they would die in such a horrible screaming awful way, that people would find their bodies and they would be morphed into like a question mark. It looked like a lightning bolt went right through them. That’s how you can tell when they’ve been killed with strychnine.

So the coyotes figured out “You know what? That smell means death. So we’re not going to do that.” So that started becoming a problem. But they were also dousing all the grains; so oats, wheat, and all of that; in the strychnine, and then they’d throw it all down in the prairie dog holes. And the prairie dogs, in these huge colonies, if they ate any of that grain they didn’t have very much time to notice that everybody was dying. Some of them would survive. But you know, if you dump it in and everybody grabs the bait and eats it, then they all die. Whoever consumes it’s dead, immediately.

So that was pretty effective with prairie dogs. But as time went on, they had to try to figure out a better way to kill all these animals. So after World War II, with all the chemicals and everything, they figured out a better poison, which they called 1080. (Sodium fluoroacetate) They worked on all these poisons, and they still do. They still have these laboratories right here in Colorado. It was originally called the Eradication Methods Lab, and that was in New Mexico originally, and they started creating all these poisons. And they figured out – 1080’s called 1080 because it took them 1080 times to get it right. For them to get the dose and the means and the distilling and everything perfect so that it would kill the coyotes immediately. And how they did that was they’d keep a bunch of captive coyotes in their laboratory facility and they would test these poisons on them and see how quickly they would die. And they were trying to time it so it would be a little bit after they ate it so the coyotes wouldn’t make the connection, that “Oh my gosh, my friend, my brother, my mom, my dad just died immediately after eating that. I probably should steer clear of these weird bait piles.”

So that was their goal, and now they are called – after they switched that lab, which was to its name, because remember then people supported that. So when they originally started that lab, Eradication Methods Lab, they named it what it was. Then it was called Denver’s Wildlife Research Laboratory. And now it’s called the National Wildlife Research Center. And that’s in Fort Collins. And so they’re testing, now we use different poisons. The main thing they use in Colorado for prairie dogs now is Fumitoxin, which is phosphene gas, (sarcastically) a great invention from World War II. And the other wars, I mean, just the gasses and everything they were using, they perfected that and they made it cheap.

1080 is still used in some places. And it kills everybody. So the extent of it – they were putting, they were dousing millions of acres. Millions of acres at a time with these strychnine poisons. Just in Colorado in one year, I think that was 1930 or something? They put 182,000 bait stations all over the landscape for the predators. Baited horse meat. And that was in one year. But they did this, they spread this all over prairie dog colonies. And what happened was every single animal, everyone was dead. Everybody. All untargeted species died because 1080, strychnine, all that kills everybody. So now the lab needed to figure out “Well how can we just try to kill maybe just the prairie dogs or the coyotes as best as we can?” They don’t really care that they have untargeted species. So they said “You know, a gas would be smart, wouldn’t it? Because then it would just kill everybody in the burrow.” And it does get other species. Their logic on that is “If we could just kill the prairie dogs, then we won’t get in trouble with that pesky ESA.” Endangered species. So they kind of try to figure out how to specifically target animals. So now they use that, and they use these horrible rodenticides. One of them is called “Kaput.” Lovely name. And the other one is Rozol. They’ve perfected those in the last year, in Colorado. They douse wheat or oats with these poisons and then they throw them in the burrows, and those are the worst poisonings I’ve ever seen, because it takes 20-30 days for them to die after ingesting it and they literally bleed from the inside out. I never understood what that meant until we got pictures of a prairie dog who’s lying on top of the burrow, dying, and blood was pooling from the prairie dog’s fur, from internal bleeding coming out.

Those are almost complete, too. When they use Rozol or Kaput, you know there are no survivors.

DJ: It’s hard to think about the reality of what this culture is doing, without recognizing that this culture is sociopathological and sadistic. And sadism and hatred of the natural world really undergirds this culture.

DM: Yes. And it’s in all of our laws, because now we’re reading all the state laws. It’s just awful. And when you look at the history of what we’ve done in this culture. We came to this continent and our justification for killing all the indigenous people and other indigenous beings was always “You don’t own land, you have no right or title to that land unless it’s tilled.” Unless you’ve cultivated the land in some form – that’s what this whole American culture is based on, land destruction. Even when you look and see, “Well, the Cherokee did something with their land,” they’d make another excuse to kill them, because it wasn’t quite the way they thought it should have been cultivated. But the main emphasis still is “Okay, we’re going to reward sociopathic behavior, we’re going to reward you if you destroy everything in your path and bring in all the invasives, then you’re good.” And nothing’s changed. We always look back, people, when I was young, whatever. You can sit there and have a glimmer of reality and people are like “Oh, it was terrible what we did to the indigenous people here! And the habitat and the land, how horrible, awful, how could we have done that?” And then you start realizing nothing has changed. It’s only gotten worse. Because now we have nothing left, hardly. And the little remnants of what are left are slipping through our hands, too.

DJ: So let’s talk for a moment about what the front range of Colorado might have been like 400 years ago? 300 years ago? Prior to conquest? Talk about how many wild buffalo there were on the front range versus now? How many prairie dogs versus now? What might it have been like in what is now Denver?

DM: I always imagine that. It breaks my heart to think of that, even. And the truth is we really don’t know. We can read the accounts, but what they say is that every – I mean, the buffalo are down to almost nothing here. And there are no truly wild, genetically pure buffalo here, unless you want to count the ones that APHIS, that animal research place that Wildlife Services falls under; them bringing the buffalo they stole and quarantined in Yellowstone and put here on some lands that are heavily fenced in. None are left. Zero. We have no actual, real, genetically pure buffalo here. So that’s down to zero percent.

But before, they were everywhere in Colorado. You can drive, if you live in Boulder – when I drive from Sedalia to Boulder, I just look at all that land and it looks so much like buffalo habitat. And I just imagine how many buffalo, and the whole land was teeming with prairie dogs, and the buffalo, and so many birds that I’m sure they would darken the sky for days at a time, like you talked about before. And the rivers were full of fish and there were plenty of elk and deer. The wildlife had to have been extraordinary and it was, if you read the accounts of what it was like then. And prairie dogs were chirping everywhere, and you read about when the explorers came over and saw, everybody always talks about how many there were, prairie dogs chirping everywhere. How many wolves there were.

The place that I live, ironically because the Forest Service is another one of my hated groups; the first forest ranger in the United States was born here, and he was raised here, and there was a little book written on him called “The Saga of the Forest Ranger.” And he was talking about how every night all the wolves – this was in the 1880’s – would sing him to sleep. There are no wolves in Colorado anymore. The only thing that we see a lot of, thankfully, are the coyotes, and we can see some prairie dogs because these are incredibly resilient creatures. And that’s the only reason. They’re very smart and they know how to bounce back, but I don’t know how much longer that’s going to continue, when we continue to have this war that doesn’t seem to slow up on them. I mean, eventually, I imagine, especially with the prairie dogs now too, because they’re just being churned into dust, up and down the front range here, especially with development.

DJ: What is the approximate percentage of pre-conquest population of the species of prairie dogs living there, and what is the percentage of range still remaining?

DM: I would definitely say – there are more and more articles that say less than one percent remaining of prairie dogs, black tailed – of numbers of actual prairie dogs. And it’s less than three percent now of the land left. The last ones, you can see where they actually did big statistics on it and did a real study that said less than two percent was left. That was in 1997, when they actually did all the studies that said less than two percent. I haven’t seen anything where they’ve done an actual, real research on how many, how much of the population is left. But I’d say an incredible amount has left us since then, just from seeing the development and everything else that’s happening.

So it’s a very small percentage, and the habitat is continually, every day, being completely eradicated along the front range. In the eastern areas, and where there’s more cropland, ironically, the numbers of prairie dogs are coming up a little bit right now. And they’re coming up because they’re fracking the crap out of those areas. When the oil people come in and rent the farmland that used to be used for crops and cows, the farmers don’t poison anymore because they’re getting their paychecks through oil. And there’s no need to kill. So they’re letting them kind of be. So you’re seeing some of those areas on oil wells coming back a bit.

DJ: Which is a commentary on many things, one of which is the resilience of prairie dogs. It really stuns me that they’ve been reduced to one percent of their population when they are so resilient and forgiving that they will sometimes grow on interstate median strips, have little villages there. It’s extraordinary that they can, that they’ve been hammered so hard when they are so forgiving.

DM: Right. It’s really scary when you think of that.

DJ: Because they’re not like some species who are so incredibly shy that they will never go within a half mile of a road. Which happens. There are species who; any human habitation whatsoever and that species is gone. You of course can’t blame them. But that makes the almost complete destruction of them all the more vicious and unforgivable.

So, speaking of things being unforgivable – given that they’re being poisoned, and given that their population is less than one or two percent, however we count that; when a prairie dog community is going to be destroyed so they can put in a shopping mall or a parking lot, and there are people who are willing to capture and relocate these prairie dogs to a willing landowner, can we presume that all of these organizations will be delighted that they don’t have to poison, and instead have been, you know I’m using that word reservedly, and instead they will be eager to be able to take over that land without having to, without poisoning the prairie dogs?

DM: Currently now we have two permits in place. One’s just about to be filed, I hope, and one is filed, and I’m supposed to hear back on that this week. So in that situation – it’s the land I live on, which is in these mountain meadows, up at like 7600 feet. I had a relocation here at Castle Rock Mall that I worked on, and all the prairie dogs, in fact I just went out and saw them this morning, everybody who’s survived that relocation, we lost maybe two thirds of the original, the first year, in their transition, which is probably expected because of the cold winter. They were all suffering from Fumitoxin poisoning anyway, so that affected them, and a lot of them didn’t get here until August, which also affects them, because here they’re trying to adapt to a different environment and this harsh winter did set in that first year.

But everybody who made it now, this is their third generation of babies, and I just looked out there today and it looked like almost every burrow had a family in it, of new babies. And they’re all doing well. They’re all fat, they’re all happy. The hawks and everything are happy here. I wish they’d lay off a little bit because I want them to get more and more, but no, it’s very helpful to all these other animals that live here, and the birds.

So somebody killed all these prairie dogs again in Douglas County and about 30 of them survived the Fumitoxin poisoning, so I got involved trying to talk to this Metro District Board. These prairie dogs were on open space and it’s crazy that they killed them anyway, and it’s crazy that they want to kill them again, the survivors. So I said “Look, let me see if I can relocate these prairie dogs here.”

Now Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the last thing they want to do is relocate prairie dogs. And this is apparent because in order to relocate prairie dogs, you have to fill out a permit. This permit’s about 12 pages and it’s a difficult one to fill out. You have to do plans, and management plans, and grass plans, and what are we going to do with them, and how are we going to make sure that everything’s okay? And you have to notify every neighbor that adjoins the area you’re going to move them to. And you have to notify all the commissioners, and you have to do an extraordinary amount of work in order to apply. Which I did within two days. I did it, I put it in, and then they make you wait for 30 days. The rule is they need to have a decision to you within 30 days, but they always make sure they take 30 days. Sometimes they’ll take 31.

And then they get biologists to come up here, and when I first brought up the, I asked them before I wrote the permit. I said “Can I move them up here?” And they said “I am not for this.” My district manager, Colorado Parks and Wildlife person who always wears a bullet-proof vest and her gun, she said “You know what? I just don’t think that’s good at all. I’m not for this at all, my recommendation is ‘No.’” And I said “Why?” And she said “Well because for one thing, we didn’t want them to put more prairie dogs up there. It’s not prairie dog habitat.” And I said ‘Yes, but they’re up here and they’re doing fine.” She said “All right, but I’m really worried that they’re going to run away and join the Gunnison’s.”

Now we have colonies of Gunnison’s prairie dogs that live 20 miles from here. And they live over mountain ranges. They live through forests. So 20 miles as a bird flies. Now prairie dogs would never venture into a forest. It’s true that this is not prairie dog habitat where I live. They’re living in meadows up here and they’re doing fine and they’re happy to be alive. I know that. But it’s not like the prairies. Prairie dogs like to see for hundreds of miles. They’re not going to run into woods. And if they did try to venture over to the Gunnison’s, 20 miles away on a crazy road, they would have to follow the road, and they would get run over by the time they got there or somebody would eat them. Prairie dogs can’t survive without their burrows. They need to dig little holes and hide in them as they move. That’s not going to happen. It’s impossible. And even if it did, the Gunnison’s and the black tailed prairie dog can’t interbreed. And that was what they were saying, that they were worried about, that they might get together and have a hybrid. And Con Slobodchikoff even stated that they have different chromosomes. I believe the black tailed has 40 and the Gunnison’s has 60, or it might be the other way around. But they have different pairs of chromosomes so they really can’t even do it anyway. They can’t interbreed. They haven’t before, and they can’t now.

So they came up here and I wasn’t here. A friend was watching my place and he said their demeanor was very pessimistic, and they were looking for any excuse not to do this. Like “Oh my gosh, what if they went that way and went over to the Gunnison’s?” Or “I don’t know, those colonies don’t look that great.” So they were trying to figure out ways, and that’s what they’re doing now. They’re getting their biologists together and they’re trying to figure out how they can make up an excuse to not allow me to move these prairie dogs. Which is just insane. Then the same thing with Rocky Flats. We’ve been working with a federal land manager with Fish and Game. His name’s David. He’s been great. He’s been helpful. He said “Hey, you guys, I have land here.” This happened with Longmont. That fell through. And then we came to him again in January and said “Let’s do this,” because we had this colony we’d been saving now for three years. They’re in Parker and they’re about to grade this land in August. So we wrote and filled out the permit and worked on it and did all this work. And there’s a state law in place that says “You know what? If you’re going to move prairie dogs over a county line, you actually have to have a formal approval by the county commissioners of whom you’re moving the prairie dogs into.”

So the prairie dogs in this case are in Arapahoe County. The wildlife refuge, that’s what it is now, is located in Jefferson County. That’s a game we could play, and we would probably win, if only the land manager would be on our side in court, which he wouldn’t. The federal land is not county land. Nor is it in county land jurisdiction for them to tell them what to do. But anyway, the commissioners have told him absolutely not. And David was sure that there would be no problem because it’s a no-brainer. Why would anyone say no? Well, this has to do with a developer, too, being a friend of this commissioner guy. But the point is, the commissioners had said, and their excuse is this. “We want all of that land for our county’s prairie dogs.”

So federal land – Jefferson County has I think 40 or 50 thousand acres of open space themselves, in county land. And they’re saying “Oh, we want Rocky Flats for our prairie dogs.” They’ve never ever asked for relocation onto Rocky Flats before. They hate prairie dogs. They call them “destructive rodent pests.” So David said “Oh, okay. Well, guess what, you guys? I have 700 acres I can fill here with prairie dogs. I’m going to do it. I want to put the black-footed ferrets here, so I’ll tell you what. I’ll let you have every single colony you want moved here, and you have the funding for it, I’m going to approve. And I’m going to move this one. So how about that?” And they said “No, absolutely not. We want no other prairie dogs from any other county on this land.”

So that’s where we are on that one. The land manager wants to have their cooperation, because he doesn’t want to become adversarial. So he wants the commissioners to say “Hey, we would like to have these prairie dogs here,” but they’re not going to. So now we’re working with David to try to get David to say “You know what? Forget you guys. I’m doing this.” Because he can. But Colorado Parks and Wildlife could come in and say “You know what? The County Commissioners have to approve this.” And I’ve had to be real quiet. Because if Colorado Parks and Wildlife knows I’m the one behind this relocation – so I’ve never mentioned that I am, I’ve had somebody else do everything – they would say no. They wouldn’t allow it. Because they don’t like me because I fight them when they say no, and I’m very upset at them poisoning prairie dogs all over the parks, so they would look, just like they are now, really hard for some way to say no. Because they can’t just say “no.” They have to have a reason. And I think that’s what they’re struggling with up on my land right now, like “We’ve got to find a reason to say no.”

DJ: So the point I’m sort of getting at with asking these questions this way is that it seems that there is in place, when you attempt, when the bureaucracies want to, or when somebody’s putting in a strip mall, wants to kill prairie dogs, that is usually given the green light. And there is a precautionary principle in place that we will not hurt this economic endeavor unless we are somehow forced to. On the other hand, if someone wants to not even keep those prairie dogs in place, which is of course what should happen, but merely to save the lives of, in some cases, remnants of larger populations, then they put in place every barrier they can think of.

DM: Yes. And it’s so frustrating. It’s like you’re just beating your head against the wall over and over again and every time you feel like “Hey, we can help these ones out” you learn more and more about the whole system and all these wildlife officials. Who they really are, who they really serve. And the deep hatred that underlies all of this for these animals. For example, in the state law that I was just looking at this morning they use this language that gives the permission of wildlife officials to kill prairie dogs on private property throughout the state, even if the property owner doesn’t want them to. Just to read it so you can hear the language of the hatred. And this is what everybody’s following. These are policies, including the Senate bill with having to get the County Commissioners’ approval, that was pushed and supported heavily by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. And that piece of legislation gave Colorado Parks and Wildlife all of the authority to approve or deny any relocation of prairie dogs and it gave them an excuse to say no, with the commissioners, because most commissioners don’t want – prairie dogs are seen, as you’ll see with this language, in the light of being a “destructive rodent pest.”

So this is the legislative declaration. It says “Whereas in many large areas of this State certain destructive rodent pests have become so numerous and such a grave and immediate menace to the agricultural, horticultural and livestock industries of this State, that large numbers of the inhabitants engage in such industries in the localities so infested are in great and imminent danger of being impoverished and reduced to want by the destruction of their crops, and whereas the situation is so serious and the emergency so urgent that public necessity demands that prompt and summary action be taken under the police power of the State to control, suppress and eradicate the rodents in areas infested by them, now therefore it is declared then in all fields, orchards, places, localities and areas in the State infested with any such rodents in sufficient numbers as to materially injure agricultural or horticultural crops such infestation is a public nuisance and subject to suppression and abatement and such under the provisions of this Part I.”

So that’s our state law. That’s our revised Colorado statute under the agricultural amendment, which is 400 and some pages of BS like this. And that is what agriculture dictates, these policies of absolute destruction. The mission of these people from the start has been to completely eradicate native species that might impede any cattle or any agriculture or any development, to get rid of them completely. And that hasn’t changed, even though the language has changed and the lies have maybe changed because once science got involved in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and with Rachel Carson and everybody becoming more aware that this is completely insane, and it’s not helpful in any way for anything, really. There’s no benefit from these policies of eradication and in fact they’re very harmful. Then you see the bureaucracy in these agencies step up in manipulative, Orwellian ways. That’s Wildlife Services. You know, Colorado Parks and Wildlife. They changed their names to give the public the idea that they’re here to protect us, protect our land, protect our wildlife. But it’s really and truly the opposite. They are not here to do that. They’re here to accomplish their mission. And the reason they do that is because nobody in the Congress and in our government is willing to fund preservation. But they’re all willing to fund killing. And that goes all across the board on everything. That’s industry. That’s industrialization. That’s our civilization. It’s based on killing. And we’re seeing the effects of that all the time, even with our kids in school. The whole solution is always “just kill it!” And they kill, and that’s supported. If you went up to Congress and said “You know, we want Colorado Parks and Wildlife to preserve animals,” they’d be – and we want to get – so, last year’s budget for Wildlife Services alone from our government was, it was $122 million was spent and over 90% of that money – and that’s just federal dollars, so they get money – for instance, Colorado Parks and Wildlife hired Wildlife Services to poison all those prairie dogs at Cherokee State Park. So Wildlife Services gets money like that. They do contracts all the time with people. “Oh, you want us to come in and kill the prairie dogs at the airport? Okay, well let me give you the bill.” So they make a lot more money than just the $122 million yearly to kill animals.

The USDA gets $137 billion this year. The USDA, from our tax money, I would bet the majority of that money is spent killing and destroying. That’s what they do. So this is a huge monster and what they eat is land. And they promote that and their money – if they don’t kill – let’s say Wildlife Services comes in and gets, or Colorado Parks and Wildlife gets money, right? Part of that funding goes toward killing prairie dogs. You need to spend this much money in damage control, to control these destructive rodent pests. And they said okay. Well, if they don’t spend that money, just like the Forest Service, and just like these other – if they don’t spend the money that they’re given to thin forests, to destroy forests, then they can’t get that money again next year because they didn’t spend it doing what they said. So you know; if they don’t spend ten thousand, ten million, whatever, doing what they got the budgeted money to do, then they lose the chance to get that money in their next budget.

So it’s just this weird cycle. And then you see Colorado Parks and Wildlife, in Colorado you’ll see these articles, they are going crazy about, and so proud they’re protecting prairie dogs. How are they protecting prairie dogs? Well they’re immunizing them with these peanut butter chunks that they throw all over these colonies because the plague is a huge risk. This is another huge risk to prairie dogs. Any large prairie dog colony that’s not necessarily on the Front Range, because Front Rangers are very segmented, very small leftover colonies trying to just survive in these urban areas. In the east and in bigger areas you’re seeing them fight against agriculture, but you’re also seeing large colonies out on lots of these lands. And the plague can come through and kill every one of them. And it is a huge problem, and we’re losing tons of prairie dogs to the plague.

And so they go out and they spend all this money on this vaccination – on these pellets. And then they can write articles saying “Look, we’re so great, we save prairie dogs. Look at what we’re doing. We’re totally working to immunize this wonderful keystone species.” And that’s all their little game too, because the government is willing to put money towards these – the people who make these immunizations are the Colorado Serum Company, who also play a big part in making poisons. It’s this funding machine. It’s like “If we can get funding for the vaccinations and we can help our buddies out at the Colorado Serum Company, then that’s great, let’s do it! We’ll look great, and then in the meantime we’ll kill tens of thousands of acres of prairie dogs with Wildlife Services’ help,” with Fumitoxin and all that. It’s very frustrating and odd.

DJ: In 2016, Wildlife Services – and this is only the feds, this does not include state programs to kill wildlife – Wildlife Services, and these are the ones that they claimed, and it is undoubtedly much higher than this.

DM: Definitely.

DJ: According to the 2016 kill report, Wildlife Services killed 415 gray wolves, 76,963 adult coyotes, an unknown number of coyote pups in 430 destroyed dens, 407 black bears, 334 mountain lions, 997 bobcats, 535 river otters, 3,791 foxes plus an unknown number of fox pups in 128 dens, and 21,184 beavers. They also killed 14,654 prairie dogs outright, “as well as an unknown number killed in more than 68,000 burrows that were destroyed or fumigated.”

DM: 59,000 of those were in Colorado.

DJ: In addition, there are millions of blackbirds, redwing blackbirds, killed every year by wildlife services. It just goes on and on. It’s not too much to call this organization – they are mobile killing units.

DM: They are.

DJ: And, again: this is only the federal program. State programs kill wildlife as well. And this only includes the ones they acknowledge that they killed. Because I know when I lived in Spokane, Washington there was a big controversy, or scandal, because if there was a bear that somebody complained about, they would claim that they would relocate it. And of course relocation of many creatures has a lot of problems on its own. In the case of prairie dogs it’s not such a big deal, because there is so much more habitat than there are prairie dogs. But with many creatures – like, if you take a bear and you move it, that’s in some other bear’s territory and somebody’s going to get killed. But in any case, what Fish and Game was doing in the State of Washington is people started to suspect that these creatures were not being relocated, and they followed them and they saw that they were killing them. That they were pretending to relocate them but then they would either overdose them or just shoot them.

DM: Wow.

DJ: In fact, in California – I was just talking to a friend not very long ago, who was at a party with a bunch of people who perform that same duty here, and they were laughing their asses off that they were duping the public, because “the stupid public thinks we relocate them but of course we just kill them.”

DM: Right. Definitely.

DJ: We have like five minutes left and we’ve sort of overlaid the horrors of this and we’ve laid out the case for the horrors, but…something we’ve said once and that I think we need to come back to is that this is not an outrageous scandal, that “oh gosh, if people just know then this will be stopped,” because this is this culture. I guess what I’m trying to say is these are not – everything you’re talking about and everything I’m talking about, these are not aberrations. This is what this culture does.

DM: A couple of things. With what we’re doing, and like with what you say too. It makes me think of “what are we going to do about this?” Right? Of course. When you say “this is what the culture does.” So what’s the point? We just keep banging and banging our head up against the wall? Yeah, we should. Until we die, we should. More people should do it because what we need now is a big, large group of grassroots activists who are willing to do something to try to stop this. I mean, something. And to get people to recognize more just what you said, and acknowledge that. This is not like “Oh my god, Colorado is bad!” No, this is everything. This is the mentality of us, of this culture, of these settlers who’ve come – our history. People don’t reckon, they don’t think about our stories and how we’ve formed our – I guess I shouldn’t keep saying “our,” but we’re the settler culture society here. We’re all a part of this machine of death.

And most people don’t recognize that and understand, and they think “Oh, you know what? I’m going to be a vegan. I’m going to make these personal choices and then I’ve done my part.” No! Not even at all. You haven’t done anything. People need to – and where we have made differences and do, just like Buffalo Field Campaign, you can make a difference the more people you get who are willing to actually do something. Even five or six very vocal people can make changes and can save some of these lives before everything comes down on itself, because it will. You cannot keep doing – and unfortunately, in all this wildlife and beautiful, every, all of life is in trouble now because of our behavior. I wish we could just leave, as humans, and leave this world and have things come back, because industrialized humans have created such an enormous amount of damage that we are at the edge right now where we either do something or we have forsaken everything that has brought us this amazing, miraculous life.

And more and more people do, like my Facebook page gets a lot of responses where people actually do my calls. And it does impact decisions that are made at local levels. When we’re talking about wildlife officials we need a lot. We need to change a couple things. We need to definitely get rid of this “destructive rodent pest” language that they use. This is a keystone species. It’s wildlife that’s imperiled and they need to be protected. We need to be able to do that. We can’t do that without everybody going at that. And ultimately we need to take the system down. But in the meantime we need to protect whomever we can. And to do that, we have to do something. I mean, if you get on our Facebook page Prairie Protection Colorado, we usually have an action call at least once a week. Lots of times it’s just involving writing letters, or writing anything, calling people, and we get a lot of people responding and a lot of shares and a lot of support that way. And it does make differences. But we all need to start just gathering strength and recognizing all these things and then telling stories, these horror stories of the poisonings and what we’re really up against. People at least are coming to that understanding and hopefully are going to be motivated to do something to stop it, because we have to stop it or everybody is going to die. And I don’t want to – to just watch the prairie dogs is so hard. To realize what’s going on in their burrows when they poison them. Because it’s not immediate, either. And even if it was, it wouldn’t make anything easier. And to just think of – when you get to know them, and their families – any animals. The wolves, the coyotes, everybody. They love, they have the exact same emotions as we do, except they’re a little bit healthier in terms of knowing how to love and communicate and be a part of the living world.

They’re much better at that than we have become. And we really need to start caring. And it’s very frustrating that people can ignore what’s going on around.

DJ: Two things I would like you to end with, if you don’t mind. First, can you talk for a moment about prairie dog love and prairie dog kisses? You talked about feeling all those emotions. What you see with the prairie dogs, just when you watch them. And then second – and you still have three or four minutes left – can you quickly tell the story of how you became a prairie dog activist so other people can follow that same model that you did?

DM: Okay. Prairie dogs have a very complex language. You can sit there and, I have all the pictures of it too. They literally do kiss each other. They greet each other that way, to the extent where their lips are touching and their hands are touching each other’s cheeks. I don’t think there’s any denial of that. When you watch them, if you watch them for five or ten minutes, can sit down in the colony and wait and be quiet till they’re not so disturbed by your presence, it would be impossible to deny the social relations that they have with each other and the love that they have for each other. And just like today I went out to look at the pups, and the mothers are way more alert right now and so are the dads, and they’re way more protective of their colony and they’re making way more noise than they normally do, and when my dog got a little bit close, the moms push all their babies into the burrow. They literally sit on their babies and then they sit up there and they bark at you. And they’re like “get down there!” Just watching them, it would be impossible to deny that they have the depth of emotions that we do. I don’t know how people can think they don’t. And they’re incredible, and they care very much for each other. And they love their life.

And I got started with all this; a lot of it was from your work. I’ve always loved the prairie dogs but you have loved them too, and just thinking about who’s in the most trouble in Colorado, prairie dogs are the ones that are the most visible, and a lot of colonies are right around my area, who are dying. So one of them in particular I was very concerned about, and with your help I was able to launch a campaign and get connected with people who helped me and guided me through that, and we went up against a mall. We weren’t successful in terms of saving the land or most of the prairie dogs. However, we did save hundreds of them.

In the end, we made a huge impact and we got the word out, lots of people caring about prairie dogs and learning a lot more about them. And ever since then we’ve been trying to build grass roots support through this individualized colony focus. And the real goal, of course, is to get, to protect these prairie dogs, of course, but also to get enough people understanding the role of these animals, understanding the way this culture works, and really wanting to do something about it to make a change, whatever it might be.

DJ: Well thank you so much for your work and thank you for being on the program. I would like to thank listeners for listening. My guest today has been Deanna Meyer. This is Derrick Jensen for Resistance Radio on the Progressive Radio Network.

Filed in Interviews by Derrick Jensen
No Responses — Written on June 10th — Filed in Interviews by Derrick Jensen

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