Prairie dog costs evoke mixed reaction

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    A prairie dog chirps a warning signal to other prairie dogs to take cover at the Railyard. An ordinance approved in 2001 protects prairie dogs within city limits and requires their ‘humane relocation’ if they live on property slated for commercial construction. New Mexican file photo

Posted: Sunday, December 15, 2013 8:00 pm | Updated: 1:56 pm, Wed Jan 15, 2014.

On farms and ranches across America, prairie dogs are target practice.

In the city of Santa Fe, the furry little critters get bubble baths, leftover Big Macs and protection under an ordinance requiring their “humane relocation” if they live on property slated for commercial construction.

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  • Elena Wood posted at 9:53 am on Thu, Dec 19, 2013.

    deserthome Posts: 1

    This article is peppered with sarcasm based on ignorance of the subject. Prairie Dogs are a "keystone species" in high desert grassland ecosystems: this means that the health and survival of at least 100 species of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects depend upon the presence of prairie dogs and their burrows. The prairie dogs that remain in Santa Fe are Gunnison's - highly endangered. The ONLY reason they have not received endangered species designation is because of ranchers/hunters/and the oil and gas industry - all of whom want grasslands to remain devoid of native species of any kind. The process of relocating prairie dogs is very labor intensive - much of which is done by trained volunteers. Though the cost within the city limits seems high, the cost of the loss of this species to our surrounding landscape is much higher. The sarcastic remark that the city prairie dogs "get a bubble bath" is clear evidence that Mr. Chacon did no research about the relocation process: the soapy water that is used is the least stressful method for getting prairie dogs to exit their burrows. Once captured, each animal is examined, dusted for fleas. Upon relocation, there is a very high mortality rate if the prairie dogs are not provided temporary burrows. Also, VOLUNTEERS feed city prairie dogs a healthy diet of vegetables.

  • HERMAN GRIEGO posted at 1:27 pm on Mon, Dec 16, 2013.

    tomcat Posts: 6

    Thanks Councilor Trujillo for keeping our kids and their facilities at heart!

    Councilor Trujillo hit the nail on the head, the amount of money removing these animals is ridiculous. Mark my word, one day a child (youth athlete) using a city park is going to trip or fall and obtain a major injury as a result of these animals moving in quicker than they can be removed. Our park employees do their best to keep up with it, but it seems we are having an infestation and something other than relocating them needs to be done.

  • Trent Botkin posted at 8:57 am on Mon, Dec 16, 2013.

    T BIZ Posts: 1

    Albuquerque and Taos also humanely capture and relocate prairie dogs when possible, as well as Flagstaff and most cities in Colorado. Santa Fe is not a kooky outlier in how it manages prairie dogs, and the program has been successful. Look at cities like Clovis and Grants, where the prairie dog is despised and all lethal forms of control are legal, and yet they are still overrun with prairie dogs.

  • George Dogpilé posted at 6:25 am on Mon, Dec 16, 2013.

    Dogpile Posts: 4

    Do you really think we get our priorities right in Fanta Se? Let's see: (1) worst schools in the worst education system in the country? (2) a hard to do business environment, with a "living wage" law; (3) aggressive panhandlers all over the 400 year old Plaza, where we increasingly sell just Chinese turquoise and T-shirts; (4) and a Prairie Dog policy that looks like a corporate retirement plan. This sounds like an article in the Onion!


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