Topognas Grasslands

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To help control rodents, Colorado ranchers are putting up signs that read:

By E. C. Shindorf
Audubon Magazine, September-October 1953
We ranchers in the vicinity of Topognas, Colorado, have posted our lands against the killing of coyotes. We are also opposed to the widespread destruction of weasels, hawks, eagles, skunks, foxes and other predatory animals.

The reason for this attitude is that for 10 years or so we have watched the steady increase of mice, gophers, moles, rabbits, and other rodents. Now we are at the point where these animals take up to one-third of our hay crop and have cut the carrying capacity of livestock on our range lands by as much as one-half.

It is indeed shocking to see the devastation being wrought by rodents on lands that were once highly productive. Despite reseeding and use of sound soil conservation practices on our land, we find that they are going downhill rapidly from the standpoint of growing vegetation.

To combat the combined work of moles, mice, pocket gophers, and other small rodents on our grasslands, this association advocates the natural control system. In the past a policy of individual and official action to eliminate the natural enemies of these rodents has been employed. As a result the balance between rodent and predator has been upset to the point of constituting a general menace to our natural resources. We advocate the protection and the promotion of all natural controls on the rodents.

What with government hunters and government poison, the predators have had a hard time. The coyote is nearly extinct in our part of the state. Foxes and bobcats have succumbed to the chain-killing poisons. There are fewer hawks and eagles every year, and weasels, which are the natural controls of moles, are very scarce. It is little wonder that we have so many rodents.

This spring rodents have even killed sagebrush and quaking aspen trees, and some bunch grass is so badly undermined that it is dead. Serious erosion is taking place, even in the National Forests, and fisherman are finding beaver dams washed full of silt. Many sportsmen are predicting more deer will die of starvation in the winter as the available foliage decreases.

The Topognas Grassland Protective Association has been formed to take action in this crisis. We strongly oppose the use of chain-killing methods for control of any animal. By this we mean use of any poison whereby another animal will suffer lethal effects from coming in contact with, or eating the carrion or exodus from an animal which has died as a result of consuming an initial poison dosage.

In view of this policy, our association vigorously opposes the use of 1080 poison in any form in the state of Colorado. Our association now represents more than 200,000 acres of land in this area. This means that on at least that much territory coyotes and most other predators are to have a chance to live without persecution and to increase in numbers so that they can once again play the role that nature intended, and be an effective check on the rodent population.