the prairie dog page
- Ranchers hate them with a passion, believing that they take food away from their cattle; they also believe that horses break their legs on prairie dog burrows. Of course, a prairie dog burrow is like any other hole in the ground and horses are smart enough to step over them like any other hole, but this superstition has persisted since 1830 and ranchers run their business without science involved ...if you don't hate prairie dogs, you're un-American.
- They are a rodent, which makes it easy to depict them as breeding machines that infest, rather than populate an area;
- They are classified as varmints, which means anyone can kill them without cause: anywhere, anytime;
- Most states with a prairie dog population have laws that require County Commissions to approve relocation from one county to another, before threatened prairie dogs can be relocated.
- Ranchers block any attempt to relocate prairie dogs they find out about: they're the least educated and most powerful and vocal prairie dog opponents and have no compunction about lying;
- Development is destroying prairie dog habitat RIGHT NOW and prairie dogs are being poisoned somewhere, RIGHT NOW - if an animal lover doesn't witness it, it goes unreported;
- State Game Commissions and Departments focus on prairie dog eradication, not their well-being.
- Although coyotes are still the prime focus of killing contests, dozens of prairie dog killing contests occur annually; yes, they're killed for fun and profit, against the tenets of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
The good things we've done so far
It's not all bad. Despite opposition from every angle, Bold Visions:
- Rescued prairie dog colonies in Clovis, New Mexico and Castle Rock, Colorado;
- Established a relationship with Turner Ranches for future relocation efforts;
- Secured the Bureau of Land Management's Sand Ranch lesser prairie chicken habitat for prairie dog colonization;
- Established a great working relationship with Ecosolutions, the best prairie dog relocation service in the state;
- Established a network of concerned citizens, advocacy groups and business contacts of people willing to help prairie dogs be relocated to natural habitat, free of poisoning threats.
Our New Goals for Prairie Dogs
- Establish a means of identification of threatened prairie dog colonies on commercial land, either through city planning commissions or their planning/permitting department.
- Use existing relocation protocols, developed by Turner Endangered Species Fund, to establish federal regulations for the permitting prairie dog relocation to federal, state and private land, without state or county approvals, removing politics from wildlife management.
- Create a program to identify suitable relocation sites on federal and private land.
- Create an activist movement large enough to affect changes in the United States Fish and Wildlife Service list of threatened species to include all species of prairie dogs. Demand a prairie dog Management Plan.
- Mandate proper inclusion of prairie dogs in the wildlife plans of states as part of ESA funding requirements.
The Whole Castle Rock Enchilada
It all started with a phone call from a concerned donor; the next day we were on the road to Colorado to help save a colony prairie dogs threatened by development. Talks between Alberta Development Partners and Castle Rock’s mighty activists had broken down and we were asked to try to reopen talks and—most of all—to get the poisoning stopped. In route to Castle Rock, we talked the developer into halting the poisoning in progress, but learned the damage had been done: as many as a thousand had already perished.
We opened a dialogue between the groups and over time, discussions produced two offers. The first was to rescue some of the remaining prairie dogs at the development site and at a secondary development site. The developer agreed to provide $22,000 to remove 500 prairie dogs total. This offer was accepted by the activists.
The second offer was $160,000 to purchase land or start a prairie dog education center and $15,000 to establish a fund for future rescue operations. This offer was refused by activists, who chose to pursue a referendum and recall election. We recommended they take the offer, but wish them well in their chosen pursuits.
We recommended and the developer hired EcoSolutions: a Santa Fe-based, licensed and bonded operation that has performed rescue and relocation for the Bureau of Land Management and city of Santa Fe for years.
EcoSolutions received a permit to proceed from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) for the rescue and removal of the ‘shopping center’ prairie dogs.
Their team, assisted by another Colorado-based prairie dog relocator began rescue; the developer extended the capture 72 hours beyond the signed contract, but because of time restraints only about 120 prairie dogs were rescued, but many unfortunately remained.
EcoSolutions was ultimately denied their relocation site in New Mexico. CPW had pressured the high-profile rancher into pulling out of their agreement, as publicity began to swell. The only offer CPW had for the Castle Rock dogs was to use them for ferret food.
We returned to Colorado to meet with CPW; in that meeting we pushed hard for relocation sites in Colorado, including land belonging to of a member of the activist’s lawsuit partner, Wildlands Defense (WLD).
We rallied activists through Facebook, Twitter, Causes and television and newspaper outlets: following two days of furious calls to CPW’s management, we spoke again with CPW. Thirty minutes later, they announced that they would allow Castle Rock’s prairie dogs to live, by approving the WLD land.
The prairie dogs are now, thankfully, safe.
Conservation is never easy work. Even now, one organization involved in the Castle Rock fiasco is still mad at us and have made some remarks that are both heated and untrue. We don’t begrudge them their fury; when you care about wildlife and have been forced to watch their execution, emotions take you places you later regret.
Make no mistake: Bold Visions is proud of its work in Castle Rock. Even though we’ve been a little bruised and battered by the process, we’re ready to step in again to help if we’re called to!
The bottom line? If Bold Visions didn't come to Castle Rock, NONE of the prairie dogs would be alive today; we saved wildlife and that's our mission!
Prairie dogs live on North America's open grasslands, a fraction of their former numbers.
Prairie dogs dig underground burrows, extensive tunnel systems and chambers marked by many mounds of packed earth at their surface entrances. Burrows have defined nurseries, sleeping quarters, and even toilets. They also feature listening posts near exits, so animals can safely keep tabs on the movements of predators outside. Prairie dogs spend a lot of time building and rebuilding these dwellings. Other animals benefit from their labors. Burrows may be shared by snakes, burrowing owls, and even rare black-footed ferrets, which hunt prairie dogs in their own dwellings.
Family groups (a male, a few females, and their young) inhabit burrows and cooperate to share food, chase off other prairie dogs, and groom one another. These group members even greet one another with a prairie dog kiss or nuzzle. Young pups are very playful and can often been seen romping near their burrows.
Black-tailed prairie dogs, the best known of the five prairie dog species, live in larger communities called towns, which may contain many hundreds of animals. Typically they cover less than half a square mile (1.3 square kilometers), but some have been enormous. The largest recorded prairie dog town covered some 25,000 square miles (65,000 square kilometers). That Texas town was home to perhaps four hundred million prairie dogs.
Another prairie dog species, the white-tailed prairie dog, lives in the western mountains. These rodents do not gather in large towns but maintain more scattered burrows. All species hunker down in winter and burn the reserves of fat they have stored during more plentiful seasons. White-tails may hibernate for up to six months on their mountain plains, while their black-tailed cousins sometimes emerge to feed on especially warm days.
These large squirrels emerge from their burrows in daylight to forage and feed on grasses, roots, and seeds. They communicate with loud cries. A warning cry, for example, will send a town's denizens hustling to their holes at the approach of a badger, coyote, or other predator. A second, "all-clear" call alerts the community when the danger has passed.
Much of the Great Plains has been converted to farming or pasture land, and prairie dogs are not often welcome in such places. Because of their destructive landscaping, they are often killed as pests. During the 20th century, about 98 percent of all prairie dogs were exterminated, and their range has shrunk to perhaps five percent of its historic spread.
What happened in Clovis is a symptom of a heinous disease caused by ONE AWFUL WORD
The prairie dog is perhaps the most maligned animal in world history, having had its population reduced from 6 billion, to (by the most optimistic estimate) under 25 million. No mammal in history has ever realized this kind of decimation. What makes it worse, is that a tiny minority of ignorant people, the American Rancher and their supporters are responsible for this slaughter, based on nothing more than propagated rumors, supported by legislation and regulations.
The word these monsters created is VARMINT. It was a term applied to anything that's devoid of profit to ranchers.
Until we can reform Game and Fish Departments nationwide, this unbridled killing will continue. We need SCIENCE, not IGNORANCE to be the driving force behind wildlife and habitat management. Prairie dogs are a KEYSTONE SPECIES: a vital part of the Great Plains ecosystem.
Bold Visions Conservation's fight to reform Game and Fish Departments is the first logical step to forever protecting prairie dogs; the word VARMINT needs to be FOREVER DELETED from the American lexicon.
Visit Our Game Commission Reform Section Now!
Our fight for the Clovis Prairie Dogs Continues! Stay tuned to these Pages for more news as it happens!
The Fat Lady is not yet Singing
Earlier today we did what many conservation groups refuse to do. We cut the Washington double speak and made clear that we were having problems related to the Clovis prairie dog rescue. Rather than dwell on that, I want to make a case for what has been done right and why some of the issues came up with the rescue team.
First if you have been involved in rescuing animals before, you may understand there are many moving parts. First the community involved must support such a rescue. Second, in many cases groups that have worked to protect animals like prairie dogs have done so with little money, lots of heart and generally the support of the local community. In many cases we are talking about a private land owner, or removing them from a golf course, or by a highway. Many communities want to support a humane alternative and are willing to pay for it. Thus many groups wind up with city or county contracts that help supplement their costs.
Now I am going to step back for a moment, and talk about our philosophy at Bold Visions. We are a group of people; staff and Board that combined have many years of hands-on experience working on campaigns to protect wildlife and wilderness. In starting this organization we made a commitment to all animals, not just a handful in our backyard. We also understood that increasingly the moves against wildlife are increasing-the wolf slaughter in the northern Rockies, increased trapping of wildlife, coyote killing contests and looking across the country the ability to still hold bears against their will for baying and other tortures. We also looked at how the conservation community has generally handled such events and we decided that a more aggressive approach was needed if we were able to change attitudes and stop the needless suffering.
However, when you work within the animal community, you also confront some people who hold a “God Complex” when it comes to saving and protecting wildlife and often these people feel that working with a community is the only way to protect the animal.
In the case of Clovis, we began our effort with a serious commitment to working with Clovis and their elected leaders. However, when it became clear that they were not acting in good faith and were clearly trying to kill these animals, well, the gloves came off.
There is a real reason to fight and fight hard. Not because we want to play God, but because we are dealing with people that call these creatures “rats” and rant all day about killing them. When you are dealing with a perspective that feels animals are theirs to control, that quote scripture to you to back such convictions and all of this is because of the direct pressure from the livestock industry-you must fight and fight hard.
That is what we have done at Bold Visions, we saved these animals from certain death and in the process challenged the old, tired thinking of those that believe if they just act nice and sweet, these animals will be saved. Perhaps they will, but such weakness and fear opens the door to the slaughter of so many more animals, because those that oppose us understand we will be weak or use the courts or ultimately cry. This is what many rural communities count on, and use an aggressive strategy of killing wildlife, pushing the rhetoric of custom and culture to their advantage, and wrapping the bible in their reasoning. They are being supported by Tea party types and also in the case of wolf destruction by the oil and gas industry and even the Koch Brothers.
The reality is they must be challenged; we must play smart and cause them to lose and lose publicly. Because they are gaining strength, not losing it! Playing it safe will not succeed, in speaking with my Board Member Jerry Black yesterday, he said “Stephen, people need to come to Montana and see for themselves the slaughter that is occurring. Wolves, bears, coyotes, basically anything that moves, the Governor and other elected officials are fearful of the sportsmen community and industry and their hijacking of culture. The reality is staying quiet or being nice is NOT WORKING!”
In the days ahead we will continue to work on gaining a resolution from Sierra County and we continue to hope that Joann’s efforts are a success. We will continue to speak to lawyers and continue to pursue our legal avenues. Despite what some have said, it really is about the prairie dogs. Success will be gaged by their survival.
What we have done is introduce a campaign that is more aggressive and more determined to stop those that are determined to push a campaign of control and death on innocent wildlife. I believe we have succeeded. The prairie dogs are still alive and the city council of Clovis has been rocked by the intensity of this campaign and your calls and letters.
If we are to make meaningful change for wildlife, we must change our tactics. If people think we can really change the culture of Game and Fish Departments across the country by being passive and nice, they are simply dreaming. Change comes slow. In the fight for equality, in the fight for LBGT rights we saw people determined, but not violent. They demanded more of elected officials and of people’s cultural understanding and religious tolerance. That is a roadmap for success. We may continue to have some internal disagreements, but as an organization, we are determined to push peoples comfort zone.
If we sit by passively we will watch the wolf leave the wild, if we do not demand more, we will be guilty of negligence. This is not about fundraising, it is about a cultural shift that gives animals rights and allows people to begin a new chapter of understanding. It is about sharing the planet we all live on and opening our hearts to learning a new meaning of respect. It’s about action and strategic planning, passion and determination. The time for sweetness is long over; this is a fight, if you do not have guts, get out of the way! This finally is about prairie dogs, wolves, grizzlies and hope. Let’s make the change now and accept we may stumble, but to not fight is to accept certain loss and defeat.
To get prairie dogs protection and removed from the varmint list. To educate people on prairie dog’s importance to soil aeration, healthy grasslands, and grazers such as bison and elk as well; to use prairie dogs as leverage on rancher’s allotments; to actively stop the shooting of prairie dogs at events around the West, and to pressure the US Fish and Wildlife Service to name Gunnison prairie dogs as endangered.
Perhaps one of nature’s most misunderstood animals, the prairie dog has long suffered at the hands of ranchers who felt, prairie dogs were damaging pasture and the boroughs they created could hurt a cow’s leg. Shot for fun at events across the West with high-powered rifles. The prairie dog has been abused and lost millions of acres of habitat while the US Fish and Wildlife service as usual panders to oil and gas, developers and other special interests allowing prairie dogs to become road-side attractions in Albuquerque and other communities in the West. There are a beautiful and productive animal, and their presence is also important for species like burrowing owls, black-footed ferrets, and desert raptors.
by Yvonne Boudreaux
Executive Director, Prairie Dog Pals
Prairie dogs and their habitat are disappearing at an alarming rate. Unless something is done to prevent their extirpation, they will become yet another extinct species -- thanks to man.
Prairie dogs are the sentinels of a healthy prairie ecosystem. As a keystone species -- one on which many other species depend for survival -- some conservationists compare the prairie dog to a canary in a coal mine. "The prairie dog, foretells the future of a community of wildlife dependent on prairie dogs for food and for the habitat they create," said Dr. Lauren McCain, deserts and grasslands program director at WildEarth Guardians' Denver office.
Several species, such as the blackfooted ferret, mountain plover, swift fox, ferruginous hawk and burrowing owl are endangered or declining due to a 98 to 99 percent reduction in prairie dog population and habitat in the west. Conversely, prairie dog towns are also drawing increasing attention from the public because of the great opportunity they provide to view wildlife.
Many people ask, “What good are prairie dogs?” There is an old Navajo warning that, if you kill off the prairie dogs there will be no one to cry for rain. Bill Mollison, the father of permaculture, notes in response that:
Amused scientists, knowing that there was no conceivable relationship between prairie dogs and rain, recommended the extermination of all burrowing animals in some desert areas planted to rangelands in the 1950s… in order to protect the roots of sparse desert grasses. Today the area (not far from Chilchinbito, Arizona) has become a virtual wasteland. Fierce run-off, soil compaction, and lack of fresh seedbed have carried the grasses away.
In fact, the burrowing animals, like prairie dogs, open breathing tubes in the Earth. The underground aquifers act like a diaphragm in human bodies, the moon as it passes raises and lowers the underground water table and the earth breathes through the many fissures and tubes opened by the burrowing creatures. The exhalation of moisture-laden air, filled with negative ions, helps create rain. Sacred Plant Medicine
As a "keystone" species, the health of the North American plains in many ways depends upon the continued survival of these social critters. Living in complex networks of underground tunnels that can become large enough to host millions of prairie dogs, their churning of the soil and the nitrogen-rich dung they deposit in it help aerate, water, and fertilize our high-desert lands. When these burrows become abandoned, they provide habitat for numerous other species.
Research during the past 20 years has also revealed that prairie dogs may have the most complex communication system in the animal kingdom. By using and then studying sonogram readings over several decades, Dr. Con Slobodchikoff, has proved that their calls comprise what could be justified as having language. Prairie dogs use syntax, which is related to word order and dialect, which distinguishes an Arizona prairie dog from a New Mexico prairie dog. Prairie dogs also use productivity -- the ability to create new words from new or unknown stimuli and displacement – the ability to talk about something that isn’t there!
It’s unfortunate that prairie dogs are lumped within the huge taxonomic order of rodents. They miss out on the agility of squirrels and the sexual reproductive prowess of mice. The only rodent with worse “public relations” is the rat! But here are some facts:
Of the 11 states with existing prairie dog populations, New Mexico has the smallest remaining acreage of occupied habitat.
• Prairie dogs are territorial and will remain in or near their ancestral habitat if at all possible. The prairie dogs you see in Albuquerque are the remnants of vast prairie dog towns that existed for hundreds of years.
• Prairie dogs can live an average of 3-5 years in the wild.
• Prairie dogs are annual breeders. Only 50% of females over 2 years of age will breed, each producing an average of 4 pups. About 50% of the new pups do not survive their first year.
• Pups are usually born in early May and will emerge from their burrows after about thirty days.
• Prairie dog burrows are complex, with a different area for each function of life. There are chambers for sleeping, nesting, food storage, toilets, and food. In addition to the main entrance, a prairie dog home will usually include a second entrance, escape “bolt holes”, and listening posts.
• As with humans, prairie dogs are the victims, not the vectors of plague. Fleas carrying the Yersinia Pestis bacteria are brought into the colony by wild animals, roaming cats, or off-leash dogs. Because they have no immunity to this exotic disease, sick prairie dogs will seek their deepest burrows and die within days.
• Poisoning prairie dogs is not only cruel, but also ineffective, causing a slow agonizing death that may take several days. While a mature colony tends to expand at approximately 2% annually, a poisoned colony can expand at an annual rate of 70%. Additionally, poison can pose a danger to humans, domestic animals and other non-target species.
• Research during the past 20 years has also revealed that prairie dogs have the most complex language of any animal ever studied. They have over 200 words and can form sentences, identifying intruders by size, color, and type of risk.
Moving the Clovis Prairie Dogs
After months of fighting, we have found a safe haven for the Clovis Prairie Dogs! Now the journey begins!
Thanks to Media Magnet Ted Turner, who has a passion for prairie dogs, the little creatures have a new home. Some may also be transported to undisclosed private ranches in Texas. We cannot thank Mr. Turner and his fine staff for giving these prairie dogs a new lease on life, and a home far away for those who would kill them.
Now we must hold the City leadership to their recorded Agreement, voiced both in City Commission meetings, and in subsequent conversations with both ourselves and the local press. Since we have met the City's requirements for relocation, they now must formalize their approval, and issue a formal Letter of Intent.
We have budgeted the costs for the new requirements and despite what you have already donated, we must ask you now to help us make this a reality.
What are the Costs?
First of all, Bold Visions Conservation is doing its best to secure major grants from foundations, to make the dream of cruelty-free black tailed prairie dog relocation across New Mexico a permanent reality. This takes time, since funding is usually only disbursed once a year; the earliest in February, 2014.
We must make several more direct trips to Clovis to meet with City officials for negotiations; each trip costs us about $300, so our total travel expenses could cost another $900. We've gone broke working to get a home for the prairie dogs!
The Relocation Team has to capture prairie dogs in family units. Capture sessions last four days, and 4 to 5 capture sessions are required for the first group, depending on the willingness of the prairie dogs to be captured!
Fuel, food and lodging for two staff during the moves. If the Relocation Team feels safe, we will observe the first move only, if there are threats of violence, we may have to observe subsequent moves. Each 4-day trip costs us $1,200, so we hope that only one trip is required...we're activists, not prairie dog movers or security guards, but we'll do what we can to help!
Fuel, food, and Services of two professional relocation experts, about $450 per day, for 16 days total: $7,200 for removal of the dogs from Clovis' most disputed areas.
The prairie dogs are transported to Texas and quarantined for two weeks for feeding and observation. This costs about fifty cents per day/per dog, about $2,500
Veterinary approval of each dog, with paperwork. This is still a great unknown. Hopefully this work can be donated and only the costs to the vet be covered, but we'll have to budget the full costs of health certification, and that requires more research. We'll update you on the costs on this page.
Once the dogs receive veterinary approval, the green light for relocation to one of the ranches is a go. The Relocation Team's fuel costs could be significant, as much as $750 per trip, in ADDITION to the $300 per day base fee, plus camping and travel expenses for six persons, which will total about $500. The budgeted cost for each relocation trip is approximately $2,500.
You can see that the costs are STAGGERING. We hope to offset a portion of the minimum costs through emergency foundation grants, but WE DESPERATELY NEED YOUR SUPPORT!
Please take a moment to consider a donation today, and please share this information with your friends. This has been a long fight, but we have FINALLY found a clear pathway to success.
Finally, a VICTORY for the beleaguered Clovis Prairie Dogs!
THE CLOVIS MAYOR AND CITY COMMISSION used every cheap maneuver in the book to stop this prairie dog relocation project...to kill helpless animals, even though there was a simple, no-cost solution.
They made a public promise though: Get a private landowner to agree to take them, and we'll let you move them.
Their plan was to do the same thing they did in Chaves County, make a deal with whatever county where the ranch was located, call them and get them to say they don't want them there and create another non-binding ordinance making it illegal to transport them.
Enter Ted Turner. Not only does he love prairie dogs, he has ranches all over the west with suitable habitat. He has made a blanket promise to accept the dogs, but doesn't have to disclose the location where they're going.
There are MANY details to be worked out. The ranches have certain guidelines that must be adhered to, and it will raise the cost of moving by a factor of three or more.
Please take a moment to read the letter, and to consider digging deep again to help these gentle little creatures find a home.
Prairie dog move delayed
The relocation of the Clovis Prairie Dogs has been delayed. The cause is the effect of the extreme drought, which resulted in mortality, malnutrition and, most of all, the underdevelopment of the pups. The pups are very small and underweight for this time of year: in fact, the original move date of June 28 was already a postponement from mid-June.
The new relocation date is July 19: let's hope our little friends fare better until then.
A HUGE "THANK YOU!" to Albertsons Market !
1905 N Prince St Clovis, NM 88101 (575) 769-2127
They're helping feed the Clovis Prairie Dogs
in preparation of their relocation,
a vital necessity for their survival!
Prairie Dog Update
Dear Members of Bold Visions Conservation,
Thursday was an important milestone for our efforts at Bold Visions Conservation. Joe Adair and I were joined by prairie dog relocation experts Joann Haddock (Citizens for Prairie Dogs,) Susan Hubby, and Bureau of Land Management Wildlife Biologist Daniel Baggao and the City of Clovis Park and Recreation Director Bill Bizzell. We spent the day in Clovis coordinating with the city, BLM and the recovery team to set a date and prepare for our first prairie dog rescue and recovery.
The conditions on the ground are frankly frightful, (as our images show,) the effects of drought have left some areas, once rich in buffalo grass, another simply dirt. The prairie dogs we found are having a very tough time surviving, with little in the way of food.
Our ultimate goal is to create a Maintenance Plan for prairie dogs which have faced poisoning by the City of Clovis to a new, safe home on the Sand Ranch, a BLM ranch of more than 100,000 acres, that has been cattle-free for some years and though dry, is far better suited for their release.
This will not be an easy project, there are several hundred prairie dogs in three locations, they will need supplemental feeding between now and when they are moved, there is simply little for them to eat, they are weak and the stress of a move could be fatal without supplemental feeding. They will also need feeding in the early days of their arrival at their new home. We need to map and GPS key areas of their colonies and we need to truck over some hay from Albuquerque as part of the supplemental feeding program.
The rescue itself will require some volunteers, likely three days at the sight and funding to pay some of the experts (Joanne and Susan) that will work with us on the rescue and transport. Temperatures in late June will hover close to 100 degrees, so keeping the recovered dogs cool and safe will be paramount. All of this requires money, real money, to make this a success.
We have met with several stores in the area and they have agreed to donate some scape foods from their produce aisle. However, in a perfect world we would have watermelons, large bags of carrots, and bales of coastal hay. We will need a pickup truck and gas to deliver some of this to Clovis. (There is no hay to be found in the eastern portion of the state, due to the drought.)
We have tremendous support from the BLM for this relocation, the City of Clovis is tired from the bad publicity and is very willing to work with us, they will be providing large amounts of water to flush the prairie dogs from their burrows and hopefully will provide some important funding for the project, since they have already spent about $10,000 on poisoning.
Our goal is to arrive on Friday June 28th in Clovis and begin on early Saturday morning and continue through Monday, July 1st.
Black Tailed prairie dogs tend to be more stubborn than their Gunnison brothers, so this may require more time to ensure we relocate family units intact.
Once again let me prioritize our needs:
• Funding for expenses; (multiple trips to Clovis, trips to relocation site,) accommodations
• Volunteer to drive pickup truck with hay and other supplemental feed to Clovis.
• We need someone who owns a RV that has air conditioning, who could be at site so that the caged prairie dogs could be housed in a cool environment during transport and waiting time.
• Paying for experts to work on capture and relocation.
• Four days of first phase of recovery, food, accommodations, gas for multiple vehicles.
• Working with College and High School students, to map and GPS key areas of the prairie dog colonies and to monitor new site and the health of the prairie dogs.
In multiple meetings with locals yesterday I was told repeatedly how prairie dogs destroy ranches, leave horses with broken legs and more and more of the mythology that is perpetuated by many in the livestock industry. These prairie dogs need a chance to live without the constant threat of being killed for fun or poisoned by the City.
Many thanks for your support.
We will be opening a special Prairie Dog rescue fund:
Please consider a donation today.
Bold Visions Conservation
L to R: Stephen Capra, Dan Baggao, Bill Bizzell, Susan Hubby, Joann Haddock
The drought is so severe that little new grass growth has occurred in the last 5-6 years, so the prairie dogs are forced to nibble everything down to a nub.
Prairie dogs are (arbitrarily) classified as vermin, so no amount of cruelty is considered off-limits. This grisly scene is at a public park.
The total area of Ned Houk Park is 3,200 acres, of which 370 is 'developed. This strip adjacent to an access road was poisoned to about 100 ' from the road.
A Killdeer mom, nesting. Her presence in this horrible environment was both puzzling and inspiring.
Another denuded field adjacent to Potter Park
This interesting structure, commonly nicknamed a 'volcano,' is the only place where prairie dogs nest. A common misconception is hole=prairie dog den.
Stephen and Dan survey poisoned land. Dogs could be seen about 2-300 feet from the access road
Another poisoning area
HUGE VICTORY FOR CLOVIS PRAIRIE DOGS!!!
Bold Visions Conservation is pleased to announce that all poisoning of prairie dogs has ceased as of today in Clovis New Mexico.
Clovis City Manager, Joe Thomas informed Stephen Capra that poisoning of the prairie had ceased, and that the City would be open to volunteer efforts to relocate the critters to another SE NM site.
A SE District BLM biologist will be reviewing four sites for suitability as relocation areas, including several empty 'towns.'
A huge THANK YOU to all the people who called and emailed the Clovis officials ...they were 'inundated' with pleas from our supporters. Our job is just beginning though, and we need your support to be able to make this move, physically, and financially.
Please click here, and use our website for coordination efforts in the coming days.
We will need volunteers to help us relocate the dogs, as well as volunteer observers to check in on them periodically for colony health. WE NEED YOU!
To volunteer,fill out the volunteer form on our site.
Stay tuned for more information!!!
Prairie dogs could be saviors of Mexico's former prairies
Living on Earth
Prairie dogs are important to the grassland ecosystem because they destroy the invasive plant, mesquite. (Photo by Rene Mensen via Wikimedia Commons.)
Prairie dogs used to rule the prairies of America and Mexico. But when ranchers moved in, prairie dogs were exterminated. Now, an ecologist says the black-tailed prairie dogs are critical for turning Mexico's desert back into prairie.
Cattle ranching spread across North American prairies in the 1800s, stretching from Canada to Mexico. But as the ranchers moved in, the black-tailed prairie dogs were forced out.
Gerardo Ceballos, an ecologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, says about 30 billion prairie dogs used to live in the grasslands.
But ranchers believed prairie dogs competed with their cattle for grass and the prairie dog burrows were causing cows and horses to break their legs. Enough ranchers were convinced the prairie dogs were a problem and got U.S. government support to use a nerve toxin, which Ceballos says causes convulsion and a lung and heart failure, in the animals' burrows.
"By poisoning and then by the advance of agriculture. It has been one of the most dramatic, drastic exterminations of an animal by humans," he said.
The toxin killed billions of prairie dogs, Ceballos said, and in 50 to 60 years, prairie dogs were eradicated from 98 percent of the area they used to live in. The prairies were transformed into deserts; a shrub called mesquite took over.
Prairie dogs aren't attracted to the plant and because mesquite blocks their view when the stand on their hind legs, they try to get rid of it any way possible. Mesquite has deep roots that suck up water and attract small animals that eat the grasses around the mesquite.
Without the prairie dogs to play gardener, the mesquite turned the prairie into a scrubland, making it unusable for the ranchers.
"You lose the ability of this landscape to maintain wildlife and plants. But also the scrubland is not good for cattle," he said.
In the summer of 1987, Ceballos and his wife were driving back to Mexico through the former grasslands in Chihuahua, Mexico. But as they drove, Ceballos said they saw grasslands waving in the wind with multitudes of prairie dogs.
"Then the next day we saw badgers. Badgers are very rare in Mexico. Golden eagles are also very rare in Mexico, and we saw more than 20 there in one single day," he said. "It hit me immediately, the idea that prairie dogs should have some role."
In the last 20 years, Ceballos has shown the prairie dog's importance. The small mammals, food for predators like coyotes and hawks, depend on grasslands for protection. Within a year of reintroducing prairie dogs to scrubland, they'd removed most of the mesquite and restored an environment that's conducive to wildlife.
"A good scientist has to do good research, but then has to translate it into action. There is no way that we can continue just being like historians — recording all the things that we are losing, instead of becoming actors," he said. "Now, my main objective in life is to save as many species of plants and animals as I can."
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Iron County to feds: We can manage prairie dogs better than you.
Threatened species >> Resolution backs local control over recovery of troublesome rodent.
By Brian Maffly | The Salt Lake Tribune
Feb 06 2013
Fed up with federal restrictions on private land use, Iron County officials are asking the Utah Legislature to back their proposal to take over the management of prairie dogs, federally listed as a threatened species.
SCR3, a concurrent resolution endorsing local control of the animal’s recovery with state assistance, cleared the Senate Tuesday without a single dissenting vote and is awaiting further action in the House. Sponsor Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, said that under county management, the Utah prairie dog will recover sufficiently to de-list the species in five years, much sooner than the three decades envisioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
But it is unclear whether such a move would be legal in the absence of a statewide recovery plan, according to federal wildlife managers. Meanwhile conservationists’ predict local control would set back the prairie dog, considered by some locals a nuisance best managed with bullets.
"This would be a terrible idea," said Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity. "The county’s interest is primarily economic. The prairie dog is being used as the latest vehicle in which private property activists are expressing their long-held grievances with the federal government and public lands. This is not a new story in Utah."
But the feds’ recovery program really tramples the rights of private property owners who are being denied full use of their land in the name of prairie dog recovery, according to Iron County commissioners who pleaded with lawmakers for relief at a Senate committee meeting last week.
"It’s a top-heavy administration-laden program that essentially removes sound reasoning and common sense out of the equation," Commissioner Dave Miller said. "It’s clustered with complex and overly sophisticated biological approaches."
He said a Cedar City dairy pulled the plug on a $10 million expansion because 85 prairie dogs were found living on the property. Along with Commissioner Dale Brinkerhoff, Miller said prairie dog conservation is a key factor in depressing the local economy and pushing down property tax valuations.
Utah prairie dogs, a species confined to southwest Utah, have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1973. Most of their habitat lies on private land, and nearly two-thirds is concentrated in Iron County, where the burrowing animals perforate golf courses and airport runways and even turn up in caskets in the Paragonah cemetery.
"Contrary to public belief, it’s not the prairie dog we hate and detest, it’s the process, the bureaucratic mess we find ourselves entangled in," Brinkerhoff said. "We fully believe the dog will be more protected under county management than under Fish and Wildlife because it will eliminate the urge and temptation to go out and kill the dogs."
Under federal management, recovery is expected to cost up to $130 million, according to Vickers.
"We are asking the Fish and Wildlife Service to transfer conservation funds to the county to allow them to put the plan in place so in a five-year period we move those dogs off the threatened list so we can get back to business as usual," Vickers said.
But wildlife officials doubt federal money can be transferred this way, while conservationists remain deeply skeptical of locals’ ability to save the prairie dog.
"Fish and Wildlife has a plan. What does have Iron County have? It has to be a holistic plan for the entire range. You can’t do things piecemeal and expect to have a sustainable recovery," said Taylor Jones of WildEarth Guardians. "They need to look carefully at what they are intending to do."