Myth of Deadly Prairie Dogs
Ty Bannerman would have us believe that prairie dogs are horrific, plague-transmitting killers [News, “7 Deadly Sins of New Mexico,” May 12-18]. Through fear mongering he does his best to perpetuate this myth. In reality, it is doubtful that a prairie dog will venture near you if it has the plague. When they do contract the plague they quickly succumb to it. Once plague gets into a prairie dog colony, the mortality rate can be 85 to 99 percent of the animals in a colony within a matter of days to a few weeks.
In fact, because they die so rapidly after the onset of a plague epidemic, prairie dogs have rarely been the guilty party in the transmission of plague to humans (Slobodchikoff 2009). According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment statistics, of the 51 plague cases in Colorado since 1957, only seven cases, one a fatality, were directly linked to prairie dogs. Eric Stone, a wildlife biologist for U.S. Fish and Wildlife confirms, “contracting the plague is very unlikely even if a person is walking through or living near a prairie dog colony. The fleas that carry plague stay in and around the burrows, so as long as a person or their pets are not coming in contact with the fleas, it is unlikely that they will contract the plague.”
Until humans came along prairie dogs had it good; grass on the prairies was plentiful and their numbers were vast. Prairie dogs coexisted with bison and pronghorn antelope, and their burrows provided an environment for birds, other mammals, lizards and snakes (Slobodchikoff 2009). We humans have disrupted this harmony. We have destroyed the grass in large areas where prairie dogs used to live and have built roads and parking lots right through their colonies. We classify them as pests, poison and shoot them. We introduced a deadly disease—plague—which destroys entire colonies. We continue to persecute these intelligent species through our inhumane actions and bad reporting.
Ty Bannerman responds: It’s true that prairie dogs are pretty benign little creatures overall, and I’m glad they’re around. However, I think it’s important to remind readers that they should never approach or touch a wild animal, especially if it appears to be sick or carrying a firearm.
Pride in Perspective
It's that time of year again at Expo New Mexico. No, not the State Fair: the Albuquerque Pride Parade and PrideFest. Join us in our 35th anniversary of Albuquerque PrideFest celebrating our triumphs, diversity and unity. Albuquerque Pride! Inc. has new leadership, and with that come new and creative changes. Since Alibi readers have always been a part of our family, the Albuquerque Pride Executive Board would like to share some of our exciting new changes with you, and to tell you where your dollars go after you buy your ticket into PrideFest.
First, the exciting part: additions to PrideFest 2011. In order to celebrate of the love shared by two individuals, we have added an outside wedding chapel. This area is exclusive for those seeking to get married. Same-sex marriages are not legal in New Mexico, but we cannot fail to acknowledge their love and their commitment to one another. These weddings will be facilitated by our friends at the Metropolitan Community Church of Albuquerque. The Albuquerque Pride Board hopes that this public celebration of love shows that we are all equal and deserve equal rights in marriage.
Secondly: the addition of the family area park. The board heard our families quite clearly. Bring your kiddos, pets and enjoy the family area, which will offer carnival games, jumpers, arts and crafts, and much more.
Third, the main stage is presenting five (wait, what?) headliners and the best of New Mexico's local GLBTQ talent. Finally, we have added a regional poetry slam, a foam party and street performers, just to name a few. But don't worry—all your favorites will be back, too: 100 vendors, a lounge, beer gardens, archives, the car show and more.
But where does all that money go? Well, PrideFest this year will cost an estimated $60,000. In order to pay for PrideFest, Albuquerque Pride has amazing sponsors, vendors and community support through PrideFest ticket sales. This money helps pay for everything from barricades at the parade to security at the children’s area to renting Expo New Mexico, in addition to supporting Albuquerque Pride for the next 12 months.
Every dollar that is gained from a PrideFest ticket sale helps the Pride Resource Center stay open and fully staffed. The resource center is the only citywide public GLBTQ center of its kind, complete with close to 3,000 GLBTQ books and videos. The resource center is now home to the Joe and Jean Travis HIV/AIDS Food Bank and the Albuquerque Pride AIDS Walk. This year we are moving to our new location Downtown in hopes of making it more accessible to our community. If we can reach our goal of 10,000 people at PrideFest this year, we can explore options to support our community through scholarships, an all-access resource center for other GLBTQ organizations, and the best part: creating grants for GLBTQ community organizations.
Some Prides across the country make their profit from liquor sales. Unfortunately we don't have that opportunity at Expo New Mexico; PrideFest ticket sales are how we generate funding. Compared to Phoenix Pride at $25 or even El Paso at $35 a day, we are proud to offer new, discounted rates for adults and children. Here at Albuquerque Pride, we are excited to be transparent with the community, and hope to become a part of your family as you have done with us for the last 35 years. Power: the unity of Pride! See you June 9, 10 and 11.
Driving the Point Home
Because we are people, there will always be crashes; as a group we are just not capable of perfect driving all the time. But the kind of crash that claimed the life of one cyclist and left another in very critical condition recently can be made less likely.
One of the first complaints from motorists about cyclists is when they see a cyclist run a red light or commit some other traffic code infraction. While I don’t think that cyclists should run red lights, can anyone cite an instance where a cyclist running a red light resulted in the death of another road user? If the NRA can say "It’s not guns that kill people, it’s people that kill people" to keep guns legal, then I am going to say "Cars don't kill people, people kill people!”
When we, you or I, drive a car in a careless, illegal or inattentive way, we are gambling with not just crumpled metal and a wrecked vehicle, but with life. And while some of us are more vulnerable road users than others, everyone is put at increased risk by the careless, illegal and inattentive driving habits we see around us every day. People like Matt Trujillo and Dan Montoya can be cycling in completely lawful, safe ways, but those practices cannot protect them from all drivers. From a KOAT online report May 12, 2011, “The bicyclist (Dan Montoya) was heading eastbound on Tramway when a car crossed the median and hit the bike head-on, (Bernalillo County Sheriff’s) deputies said. Deputies said the driver of the car may have had a medical episode.” Reports of the incident that caused severe bodily harm to Matt Trujillo said that he was hit by a driver who ran a red light. Motor vehicle drivers are in control, or not, of a potentially far more dangerous means of transportation. Our streets and highways are not a level playing field.
It is not the other driver I’m asking you to look at, it’s you. We are each responsible for our own driving habits. Take a realistic look at your abilities, attentiveness and habits. What about your cell phone use, texting or talking? Can you see well enough, or do you need new glasses? Are you healthy enough? Do you have awareness of two-wheeled vehicles, motorized or human powered? Do you obey the traffic laws? What else do you think it is OK to do while driving, besides paying attention to the road?
Being in denial about this could have an incredibly high price.
Medicine in a Throwaway Society
The pharmaceutical industry and the medical profession would have us believe that medication dosing is an exact science, but that is hardly the case. Occasionally, as with some types of cancer chemotherapy, precision is called for. But most of the time, dosing is an approximation at best, and this should come as no surprise when you think about it.
Why, for example, would 2.5 or 5 milligrams of Zomig be a standard adult dose, regardless of whether you weigh 120 or 200 pounds; whether you're male or female; whether or not you consume alcohol daily; regardless of diet or level of exercise? Why toss perfectly good meds in the trash? Why not keep some money in your pocket instead of transferring it to AstraZeneca's bank account?
The pharmaceutical companies promote expiration dates because it improves their bottom line. Consider how many useful meds are trashed every day just because they are beyond their expiration date. For liability reasons, doctors can not hand out expired samples in the doctor's office. As a result, thousands of dollars’ worth of perfectly good medication are trashed every month.
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