Boulder Considering Circus Ban

County Also Threatens Legal Action For Prairie Dog Killings

The Boulder City Council is considering a ban on circuses and others who own or show for profit exotic animals such as elephants.

The ordinance would ban roadside zoos and circus animal performances. It would keep people from owning reptiles more than 1 foot long, ferrets, marsupials and several other animals including aquatic mammals.

A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for June 5.

Circuses and roadside zoos have avoided Boulder ever since residents complained about an animal display at the Boulder Creek Festival in 1995.

But pet store owner Janelle Ince said banning ferrets and larger reptiles would be going too far.

"The city went to guardianship instead of ownership with animals, so they're part of the family now," said Ince, referring to an ordinance passed last year that defines pet owners as pet guardians. "What are they going to do next, tell people their children can only get so tall?"

Assistant City Attorney Walt Fricke said the City Council is open to suggestions for what to list as exotic animals.

The Humane Society of Boulder Valley supports a ban of petting zoos, menageries and circuses because of poor animal treatment sometimes associated with the industry, society director Jan McHugh-Smith said.

"It's a statement that Boulder as community cares about the welfare of animals on display," she said.

Meanwhile, Boulder County Land Use Department Director Graham Billingsley said the county would consider legal action against Colorado Horse Rescue for trying to kill prairie dogs on its land.

In a letter sent by certified mail Monday Billingsley told the company that the county would levy sanctions, including taking legal action or repealing the company's permit to operate, if problems persist.

The letter outlined "extensive problems" Boulder County officials have investigated and asked Colorado Horse Rescue to correct since the group moved to its new facility near Longmont in October.

A county zoning officer stopped three people who were poisoning prairie dogs at the Colorado Horse Rescue, which finds homes for abused and unwanted horses.

Officials of the group could not be reached for comment.

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