Some think of prairie dogs as oversized, furry rats - agricultural pests that compete with cows for forage. Others see them as essential parts of prairie ecosystems. Varmints, a soon-to-be-released documentary from High Plains Films, explores the heated controversy that has mobilized the Sierra Club in defense of the critters, and has spawned the Varmint Militia, a group of hunters devoted to eliminating the animals. The premiere will be held Oct. 28 at the Boulder Theater in Boulder, Colo. This opening coincides with the end of the comment period on a petition to list the black-tailed prairie dog as an endangered species.

Send comments to Jamie Clark, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1849 C St., NW, Washington, DC 20240. For more information on Varmints, call Jennifer Ferenstein at High Plains Films, 406/543-0079.

* Stanley Yung

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