Prison kills prairie dogs to beat ESA listing

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1999:

LAKEWOOD, Colorado– –The
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on October 6
opened a 30-day comment period on a proposal
by the National Wildlife Federation
and other groups to list black-tailed prairie
dogs as a threatened species.
As announcement of the comment
period was anticipated, however, the
Federal Correctional Institute in Jefferson
County, Colorado, joined ranchers and
developers in the 10 states which have
prairie dogs in a rush to exterminate local
populations before they can be protected.
Observers estimated that Abash Exterminating
killed as many as 20,000 prairie dogs
at the prison––ostensibly because prisoners
might have enlarged their tunnels and used
them to escape.

Jack Murphy of Urban Wildlife
Rescue told writers for the Denver Post and
Rocky Mountain News that he expects a
wave of complaints about coyotes, foxes,
hawks, and owls to follow the prairie dog
killings, because the predators will turn to
yard pets after losing their major prey.
Outrage over the Colorado massacre
did not deter Iron County, Utah from
easing the permit requirements for prairie
dog killing. Iron County Commission chair
Dennis Stowell told the Deseret News that
the object was “to create a little good will.”

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