Activists call for stop to poisonings

City trying to control prairie dog migration

By Alisha Jeter, Broomfield Enterprise Staff Writer

Two Broomfield wildlife activists are calling for a stop to a city policy of poisoning prairie dogs on the Lac Amora open space.

The city has for the past three years exterminated prairie dogs that cross the border into the Lac Amora open space from the adjacent Rock Creek Open Space, owned by Boulder County. Boulder County put up a fence to keep the crossings from happening but it doesn’t contain all of the animals, city officials said. The city hires exterminators to kill errant prairie dogs two or three times a year.

In the most recent case last week, about 100 prairie dogs were killed after residents complained the animals were overrunning trails and coming into conflict with dogs in the area, said Kristan Pritz, director of Broomfield Open Space and Trails. Some also said prairie dogs were burrowing too close to their homes and yards, she said.

The city’s prairie dog policy, adopted by City Council in May 2003, allows the city to use poison to kill prairie dogs that have come too close to homes, Pritz said.

“What we try to do to guide our actions is use this policy that was adopted by this community,” Pritz said, adding the policy wasn’t meant to please everyone but to achieve a balance between maintaining wildlife and private property rights.

But activists and longtime Broomfield residents Judy Enderle and Wendy Keefover-Ring want an emergency moratorium on using poison to control the borders between the two open space areas. Enderle, of Prairie Preservation Alliance, and Keefover-Ring, of Sinapu, wrote a letter calling for the moratorium to City Council and other city leaders following the latest eradication.

“The policy of exterminating native wildlife in Broomfield open space is troubling,” the two wrote. “As public officials, you have a public trust obligation to protect native wildlife for all Broomfield citizens.”

Enderle earlier this week said she disagrees the city is within its policy.

“It seems like they’re not following their own plan. It seems like they just leaped to poisonings,” she said.

The prairie dog policy calls for officials to first try to relocate prairie dogs to designated sites — but the city ran out of room with a relocation earlier this year from Broomfield County Commons open space, which took the last 50 slots at a site near Great Western Reservoir. The policy also allows for removal to a raptor feeding program. Extermination is allowed in emergency situations, such as the animals nearing homes, Pritz said.

The city needs to put up notices of when it conducts the poisonings, which isn’t happening now, said Mayor Pro Tem Clark Griep, who represents the district in which Lac Amora open space is located.

“We definitely need to take a look at what’s going on there,” he said. “I’d say the one thing we need to do is find another place for us to put prairie dogs when they need to be pulled out of an area.”

Specifically, the city needs to identify new relocation land in potential open space areas it wants to buy, Griep said.

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