To kill or not to kill? Battle over the future of prairie dogs heats up in Longmont

Posted at 10:04 PM, May 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-10 00:40:40-04

LONGMONT, Colo. -- All across Colorado, a passionate battle over what to do about prairie dogs is being waged. We've been telling you about some of the things different communities have tried, from relocating to killing them.

In Longmont, on one side are land developers and owners, who consider them rodents and a nuisance that are standing in the way of new homes. And on the other, advocacy groups are fighting to protect them.

As more homes and developments pop up in Boulder County, prairie dogs are running out of places to live because landowners and developers are getting rid of them.

Jeremy Gregory is the executive director of the group Tindakan, that works with nonprofits like Prairie Protection Colorado to protect the prairie dogs.

"They've put Fumitoxin in the ground," said Gregory. “You'll see them dropping pellets in and then use their pikes to close up the ground."

Gregory recorded video on his cellphone, purportedly showing a kill that landowner William Kuhn ordered.

“A prairie dog is going through a very slow, agonizing death from these pellets,” said Gregory. "There's a lack of understanding how important prairie dogs are."

Susan Sommers, with Prairie Protection Colorado, as well as Gregory, are part of a coalition of people that drafted a municipal code that has support from city council. Part of it would require developers to notify the public so that advocacy groups could help relocate prairie dogs.

"Establishes a true good faith effort that the developer or the landowner must take to relocate prairie dogs," said Gregory.

They said as of now, prairie dogs have no protection by law and believe the public fails to realize how big of a role they play in the ecosystem as a keystone species.

"You can exterminate, you can shoot them, you can drown them," said Sommers.

Denver7 reached out to landowner William Kuhn, who said over the phone that when he purchased the land a decade ago, it was prairie dog-free. He claims someone relocated the rodents nearby his plot of land and they eventually spread to his property. He said he offered to work with both Gregory and Sommers’ groups on relocating the prairie dogs, but did not hear back.

Gregory disputes this claim.

“He had a choice to work with us and he chose not to do that.”