PARKER, Colo -- The ongoing fight to save prairie dogs near a Parker neighborhood is becoming more urgent.
The Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife denied an application to move approximately 30 prairie dogs after other colonies in the area were poisoned. The Stonegate Village Metro District Board will now determine the fate of the survivors at a meeting on June 20.
"Using our HOA money without asking us if they can use it to kill off innocent lives, that is just ridiculous," said Rachel Huston, a longtime resident.
A spokesperson for CPW said the application was denied because the relocation site is not a native habitat and current neighbors expressed concern about relocation efforts. She also pointed out that Colorado's wildlife laws allow landowners to manage wildlife like prairie dogs on their properties.
The Stonegate Board of Directors said they studied the issue for 7 months before voting to reduce the prairie dog population. The conversation was spurred by several residents who expressed concern about potential safety risks for children and dogs.
"It’s important to know that the safety of residents is the number one priority. That’s why the Board made the very tough decision to reduce the prairie dog population, in the areas owned by the District, to a sustainable level to avoid the plague - a decision they did not take lightly."
A group called Prairie Protection Colorado was hoping to relocate the survivors. Their executive director called CPW's decision disappointing and didn't understand the rationale behind it. She said the same kind of prairie dogs were previously relocated to her land in 2015.
"Stonegate would have been a good addition and would have helped maintain biodiversity with the colony here. They denied the permit because they said this really isn't black-tailed prairie dog habitat, even though the black-tailed prairie dogs already live up here and were approved to live up here by CPW 3 years ago," said Deanna Meyer, Executive Director of Prairie Protection Colorado.