Where have all the animals gone?

  • One of my fondest memories I have is growing up on a farm in South Dakota and shooting rabbits. We would walk around hunting them with pellet guns, rifles, and shotguns. There were hundreds of them. We would shoot 150 of them in a single weekend, go back out the following weekend and do it again. It was as if you couldn't even put a dent in their population. Cottontail rabbits. So many of them that during the winter they would have thousands of trails through the tree strips and all through the farm yard. In the evening at sundown, the entire outside would come alive with them chasing each other down. This went on for my entire childhood.

    Then something happened. Right around the year 1998, rabbit populations began to be reduced. It was noticeable. We stopped shooting them. Just a few, here and there. We started finding rabbits just laying dead. Everywhere. In the spring we would see fewer and fewer baby cottontails. They were once so plentiful that us boys would catch them frequently as babies as they hopped around the front yard. As the years clicked by, there were fewer and fewer of them. From 2010 on, they have been nearly exterminated. When I was a teenager in high school and drove by the property I currently live on, 13 acres of land, it would not be uncommon to see over 50 rabbits along the 300yd stretch of road next to it. Literally HUNDREDS of rabbits in CRP fields, sloughs, and tree strips. Now on this very property, we are lucky if we have 5 cottontails at any given point in time. As of 2010 we have completely stopped shooting them... with rare exceptions, if we see one acting sickly and such.

    So what happened? We always thought they would come back. Thought that perhaps they were overpopulated which caused a disease and we didn't shoot enough of them! Looking back now I see how foolish that thought was. This didn't just happen on our property. It didn't just happen in our township, nor did it only happen in our county. It happened EVERYWHERE in eastern south dakota. ... and it wasn't just the rabbits. Gophers. Where had they gone? When I was young we would enter a single pasture and shoot for the entire day, until all 22lr ammo had been expended, and there would still be gophers running all over the place. Muskrats. The spring ditches in my area would be absolutely teeming with muskrats. Many other small critters as well have all but vanished. No, this wasn't a disease or some thing caused by over population. This was something killing these animals on a grand scale in a geographically huge area. No hunters and no natural mechanisms aside from a plague could decimate a population of small animals like this. Yet all local wildlife officials assured me that no plague was present in these animals.

    This has been bothering me for roughly 15 years of my life. I've spent countless hours doing research. I've talked with wildlife officials and state representatives. I've remained vigilant and have kept an open mind as to what it might be, always looking for some answer. In the last couple years I have spent a great deal of time in far western South Dakota. During that time I have noticed a ridiculous number of cottontails rabbits and jack rabbits in that area. So many of them in fact that it brought back fond memories of my youth. I got to thinking, and asked myself "what is happening back east that is not happening here?" I knew whatever it was, had to be something on a grand scale. It had to be something happening EVERYWHERE on the eastern half of the state that isn't really happening out west.

    That's when it hit me.


    Roundup. More scientifically known as glyphosate. This chemical is sprayed on virtually every square inch of farm ground in eastern south dakota, and eastern south dakota is about 98% farm ground. I'm talking MILLIONS of gallons of this stuff is being sprayed at least one time per year in the eastern half of the state, if not 2-3 times per year. The scale that this chemical is sprayed in this country is absolutely astonishing. Based on roundup literature I found, they call for applications of roughly half a gallon of roundup concentrate per acre. A typical "section" in south dakota is 1 mile square and is 640 acres. You don't have to be very good at math to see that is roughly 320 gallons of glyphosate being sprayed per application on every square mile. It is also widely known that farmers will typically run a "hot" batch at least one time per year which increases the application rate and concentration of the mix substantially. Three hundred and twenty GALLONS minimum, per square mile, multiplied across MILLIONS of acres of South Dakota farm ground. Once I realized the scope of what was going on, it scared the ever loving hell out of me. This scale of what is happening is nearly unfathomable.

    Why does this matter? The effects of glyphosate on animals and people has been studied many times, and in each instance, monsanto (the proprietor of roundup) launches a full attack on those involved immediately. A quick search on google will reveal all kinds of nasty things that this chemical will do to living things.

    How did I come to this conclusion?

    This is literally the only thing that I could think of that is different on a grand scale. When you look back on when "roundup ready" GMO seeds started to be widely used, and roundup started to be widely sprayed, it was shortly after that the decimation of small critters in the wild here began... and it has been worse every single year. Though it was only after my recent discovery of massive quantities of critters out in western South Dakota that revealed this secret, and here's why: There isn't much farming in western South Dakota. Eastern South Dakota is green and covered with productive fluffy black-soil farm land, while western South Dakota is more arid and rocky. The farther west you go, the browner everything gets. The farther east, the greener it gets. The whole works split right down the middle by the Missouri River.

    I can not think of anything else that has changed here on such a grand scale as to cause something like this. Agriculture is a quarter-trillion dollar a year industry. At least that, if not significantly more if you consider all other affected industries. When I was young, local farmers ran their crops to the elevators in tandem axle grain trucks similar to a dump truck. Now, every single farmer in the territory runs a fleet of semi trucks. Most of those pulling full trailers and pups behind them. The massive growth of the industry has turned most farmers into millionaires. Not that I have anything against the accumulation of wealth, but it is a demonstration of how things have changed in just 20-30 years time. Once upon a time, no one got into farming to be rich. Now, the dollar amounts being thrown around by these farm operations staggers the mind. Along with that profit realization comes the potential for virtually unlimited growth. Growth, results in even more production and more chemicals being sprayed. The bigger the operation, the more they seem to depend upon the "systems" being sold by the big chemical and equipment corporations. The most scary thing is that this is just ONE chemical we're talking about here. It is but a drop in the ocean of products that get sprayed in ridiculous quantities over our fields, homes, and food every single year. Spraying this much of anything other than WATER or other natural substances on our land CAN NOT be good.

    I'm not a biologist, nor am I a chemist. I certainly don't think anyone should believe what I'm saying on blind faith alone. I think that everyone needs to take a personal interest in what has caused the wildlife populations in this state and others to plummet. I think qualified people outside the reach of the huge corporations producing these chemicals (if that is even possible) need to invest in the research required to find out how these chemicals being sprayed everywhere are affecting us. Is it impossible to suspect massive long-term effects of so much chemical making it into our ground water supply? Is it impossible that the virtual disappearance of these small animals are not a direct warning sign of how viciously the environment is being treated? Is it any surprise that the area where the Mississippi river dumps into the ocean is a proverbial dead zone, caused by the watershed runoff from every single field in this state winding up in the Missouri river, which feeds the Mississippi, just as every state between South Dakota and the ocean? If there is this much chemical being sprayed in South Dakota, it is likely matched or even exceeded by the states south of us. The amount of chemical runoff hitting the largest river system in the United States could no doubt only be described as biblical.

    Anyone that knows me, knows I'm not some hippie tree-hugger type. ... but you don't have to be to see the seriousness of what is going on. Yet somehow I seriously doubt that any farmer standing to make ridiculous money this fall gives a singular thought about what I think. The kind of money at play here on both sides of the industry, vendor and consumer, is so large that it would probably take nothing short of an act of God to get people to modify their behavior regarding this topic, regardless of what the modification would be. It's scary to think what will be left of the natural resources in this country by the time my children are my age. The last 30 years has seen change at an unbelievable pace. So fast, with dangerously little information. I shudder to think of what it will be like 30 years from now. Will there be ANY rabbits or varmints left for my children to hunt? If there aren't, what does that say of the status of nature around us? Scary thought.

  • Really see it here in the reefs.
    All the chemicals end up in the ocean destroying the near shore reefs.
    We have Monsanto Pioneer and Syngenta growing seed here killing flora and fauna.

  • Interesting part is decrease in varmints huge increase in cancer. Monsanto is banned in a lot of other countries. Genetically enhanced food. Population control. It is not just varmints...

  • My cousin wrote is doctorial thesis on the affects of roundup. His determination was that if something doesn't change regarding the use of roundup...then autism in humans will drastically increase in the next 15 years.

    Now...while I think roundup is a problem...I think it more likely
    That pesticides are causing this problem. Pesticides are also sprayed on almost everything and are sprayed multiple times a year here. When they are sprayed...dead bugs will "rain down" on homes and lots surrounding the fields. Fortunately here the application is by ground based spray rigs and not planes...but it is still a problem.

    Gromoxone (sp?) is a chemical farmers here use for "burn down" and defoliation. It is a wicked chemical that will eat metal. It is often sprayed here to defoliate beans and cotton often gets a double batch of it.

    I have no respect at all for Monsanto. My Bro in law worked for them for a few years and found out real quick that they are not an "honorable" company.

    I also am not an EPA freak...and generally believe the government should stay out of land owners business...but when things start affecting others it becomes a problem.

  • Funny how the EPA is so concerned with VW and now FCA for there diesel engines but could care less about the chemicals being used on food. I am no fan of Government at all but here is a reason for concern but nothing, why? I am sure money is one reason, but there has to be more. The nut job science tzar that oloser had wrote a paper in the 70's about population control through using chemicals in our water supply distribution. Reason was there would be food shortages. You just have to wonder through years of brainwashing propaganda what people believe or are capable of.

  • You're probably not wrong, but it may be more than just RoundUp.

    Roundup is nasty, really you can trace it's (and monsanto) roots back to The Vietnam War and Agent Orange.

    But it probably isn't going to be around much longer, even the RoundUp we use on the farm is much different then it was a few years ago, stronger perhaps I'm not sure on the details exactly.

    Weeds are becoming resistant to it, partially because farmers are more apt to underspray then overspray. That stuff is expensive, I'll ask the spray guy at work about cost and spray rate and see if I can get some answers.

    Unfortunately just because it goes away might not mean much, other chemicals will take its place.

    We already use things much much much stronger then Roundup.

    I wasn't around this area before 2005, but I'll say that I have seen more animals (Rabbits, birds, and varmints) last harvest then any other. We were running hundreds of rabbits out of fields, but that was last year, a year ago it was different even.

    Farmers (and ranchers) can be extremely hypocritical, they'll protest a pipeline because it might pollute the water, then they pump hundreds of gallons of chemical on the ground, destroy buffers, irrigate, or have 80,000 cows in a feed lot where their piss and shit leaches down.

    It's a good theory.

    And just because other countries ban things doesn't mean their bad either, in regards to GMOs. GMOs have saved millions of lives.

  • @dddoo7 said:

    My cousin wrote is doctorial thesis on the affects of roundup. His determination was that if something doesn't change regarding the use of roundup...then autism in humans will drastically increase in the next 15 years.

    That sounds interesting, and I'd like to read that, do you happen to know the title of his paper?

  • @ragnarnar
    I don't. I'll see if I can find out.

  • @dddoo7
    Actually his name would probably do it. I should be able to find it in google scholar

  • I'll have to dig up the articles I found, but pesticides, roundup and gmo foods are all linked to autoimmune illnesses, autism, cancer and more! So I can only imagine the havoc it's causing in animal bodies around farming areas. You can trace these claims back to before all of these chemicals were heavily used and there weren't all these issues to now when we have all shit storm of illnesses never seen before.

    As you can imagine, I'm not a crunchy granola save the trees person either, however I like to use food to heal and natural remedies rather than over-the-counter big pharma stuff. It's infuriating once you jump down the rabbit hole to find the truth behind a lot of this crap.

  • @ragnarnar said:

    Actually his name would probably do it. I should be able to find it in google scholar

    I didn't know that existed. Pretty cool.

    I don't have enough education in farming or understand all of this...but here it is.


  • Seems that it wants me to pay to see the article.

  • @orkan

    Me too. I have not read the article...just know what he told me. I'll see if I can talk to him. We are not real close anymore.

  • Well if it's like any other research on this stuff... it will say it's bad. It's real bad in the quantities being used.

  • Banned

    I too have seen small animals drop off. Growing up I could plink at gophers all day once the hay was put up. I haven't seen a single one in the hay field since the 3 quarters of pasture around me were turned into cropland.
    At one time I was forced to shoot rabbits in the winter just to keep the trees alive. I haven't seen small branches or trees chewed on for at least 5 years, and I stopped shooting rabbits well before that.

    I have family with a couple miles of land, and I can remember seeing groups of 50-100 jackrabbits. While that land is still mostly pasture, nearly everything around it is now crops. I haven't seen but maybe 2 jacks out there in about that same 5-10 years.

    At first I thought they were just moving away from ag, but that wasn't right because in the past even tree strips next to fields had super highways running through them (cottontail tracks).

    I then thought maybe I was putting too much pressure on them, so me and everyone I knew in the area stopped shooting them, yet the numbers continued to plummet year after year. Even my hot spot, a prime area for cottontails to thrive, only has maybe 10 rabbits currently.

    It doesn't stop at rabbits and gophers. There are less raccoons, badgers, pheasants... any critter that eats vegetation or bugs seems to have a decline in population. Cottontails, jackrabbits and gophers have been the most alarming because of how small the once large population was.

  • I skimmed the study. It doesn't mention humans at all. It deals with ragweed chemical resistance. Maybe some of his support literature covers it, but I didn't get into that.

    My academic focus is on chemistry and geology, so I don't know much about the biological pathways discussed in the study. In my opinion the summary covers it pretty well.

    Greenhouse studies were established in Fayetteville, AR, to investigate glyphosate resistance in Arkansas common ragweed populations. Common ragweed seed were collected from plants in Pope and Jackson counties in Arkansas. Plants grown from seed were sprayed with one of seven glyphosate rates. Populations in Pope and Jackson counties were 21-fold and 10-fold more tolerant to glyphosate, respectively, than a known susceptible population. Based on ¹₄C-glyphosate absorption and translocation studies, reduced glyphosate absorption or translocation was not the resistance mechanism in Arkansas glyphosate-resistant common ragweed. Shikimate accumulation did not differ among the known susceptible and the two resistant populations at 3 d after treatment (DAT). However, by 5 DAT, shikimate accumulation in the two resistant populations was lower than the known susceptible population. Data indicate that glyphosate-resistant common ragweed is present in at least two locations in Arkansas, and the resistance mechanism is not an insensitive target site or reduced glyphosate absorption or translocation.

    I'll email it to you if you'd like to take a look at the full thing. PM me a good email.

  • I didn't get to talk with him today...but talked to his mother. His paper was on ragweed and I don't know where I got the autistic thing. I have his number now and will get in touch with him in the next few days. I know he has studied roundup very extensively and I am curious what his thoughts are about this.

  • I should clarify as well, as I mentioned in my original post, I'm aware that roundup is only one of many chemicals sprayed. I don't know if roundup is completely responsible... I don't know if any of the chemicals are responsible. However, I can't imagine the quantities of chemicals being used NOT doing harm. If you research what is known about the chemicals being sprayed... its BAD stuff.

    Areas with a lot of agriculture have significantly reduced quantities of small creatures. Areas without a lot of agriculture still have appreciable populations of small creatures. That was the trend I saw for myself.