Jeffrey Harsh admits he would try just about anything to save the prairie dog.
Not content to sit and watch as counties and landowners across the Plains wipe the land clean of the critters, he wants to do something — plead the case of the prairie dog, if you will.
His recent plea has some wildlife preservationists nodding their heads in agreement but other folks, well, chuckling in their chairs.
The theory — espoused by others over the years — is that by burrowing the land above one of the world’s largest underground water supply, prairie dogs loosen the soil and allow rain to seep through and recharge it.
More prairie dogs throughout the plains would mean more rainwater into the depleting Ogallala aquifer, which supplies water to eight states, including Kansas.
"Prairie dogs can penetrate the zone (of the Ogallala) that rainwater can't do on its own," said Harsh, who owns an animal refuge in western Kansas' Logan County. "People have deemed them as being from the dark side … but, yes, the prairie dog is a major player in allowing the aquifer to be replenished."
Some say that's just a myth, one more effort to save the prairie dogs.
Many farmers and ranchers have maintained that the animals cause havoc on their land. Through the years, their population has been significantly scaled back to a slight fraction of what it once was.
The war over the critters has become so fierce it landed in a Logan County courtroom last year. One farmer, Larry Haverfield, understands the need for prairie dogs and wants them on his land. But when other farmers complained, the county intervened and did what state law allows counties to do: lay poison when landowners won't.
Read the full story at KansasCity.com.