Can Ferrets Save the West?

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10/24/2013 by syrbal-labrys

Taz Desk ExplorationPeople know they are in danger from things they know about, right? But most agree, the worst dangers are things they have no clue about…for instance, when you think an old killer is just that – old, history, non-modern.

Something like the bubonic plague, for instance?

Most folks who live in the West, especially the Southwest, have heard of there being a few cases of plague in humans every year. Nobody thinks it is dangerous. And nobody asks really loudly where the plague comes from…after all, we are not overrun with rats like the mental picture most of us call up of the historic ravages of the medieval “black plague”, are we?

But what about mice, squirrels, prairie dogs and other rodents? Some landscapes are far, far too quiet and now at least a few researchers know why. Breeders trying to bring back the practically extinct native (to North America only) black footed ferret accidentally fed plague-infected meat to their precious charges. The dying ferret revealed a threat everyone thought harmless. And so, saving one species revealed that an ancient killer is still out there in the wild, devastating smaller species.

What happens, if the infrastructure of America breaks down more and more, as it seems to be doing and careful disciplines like keeping houses and buildings rodent free breaks down, too? What if we get a plague spreading in humans? What if it happens when the CDC is not at work for some rather stupid political reason? Just some of the uncomfortable thoughts that go through my often insomniac brain….

Maybe the beautiful little black footed ferrets CAN save us more than we can save them? Once more, the word is, watch the predator health….it is the watchword of survival for ALL. My pet ferrets, long domesticated from the European polecat are my personal avatars of the natural world. I know how easily they catch diseases that sicken humans. So, perhaps, as the wild ferrets go, so go we all?


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The name of this blog, and my Dreamwidth blog, Herlander Refugee, is taken from a 1915 feminist novel "Herland". It makes my heart sing that modern women are experimenting with creation of a new "Herland"! Yes, comments are closed. Anyone who just MUST reach me can do so at syrbal6 at gmail dot com.

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