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Prairie dogs take over Jefferson County sports complex

Posted at 5:00 PM, Sep 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-05 19:47:32-04

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- There are signs of prairie dogs on every corner of the Schaefer Athletic Complex in Jefferson County.

Ron Hopp, the Executive Director of the Foothills Park and Recreation District, says there are several burrows near the complex.

“Adjacent to the buildings, we probably got eight to 10 holes,” said Ron Hopp.

Hopp says the prairie dogs are allowed to roam the land 50 feet away from the complex. He says the animals can cause serious safety issues when they get too close to the buildings.

“We are concerned about infiltration of water and other things that could compromise the foundation of the building,” said Hopp.

The prairie dog invasion of the complex has been an ongoing issue for months. Hopp is left with no other option but to poison them.

“We found that the most humane way is to actually use the carbon monoxide machine that actually injects carbon monoxide into the holes and  basically puts them to sleep,” said Hopp.

But Gina Writz, who is part of the Prairie Dog Task Force, says killing them will have negative consequences.

"When you remove the prairie dogs, you are removing a food source and you are causing an imbalance to the ecosystem for literally dozens of other animals,” Writz said.

Writz says poisoning isn't the answer because more will move in. She and other volunteers have placed cages at the complex in hopes of relocating the animals.

Hopp says he is hoping to remove at least 15 prairie dogs, but the rest will be put to sleep before more damage is done to the building.

“This is obviously a safety issue that we need to address,” said Hopp.