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Home / Articles / Views / In Case You Missed It /  Making it easier to kill prairie dogs
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Thursday, October 1,2009

Making it easier to kill prairie dogs

In Case You Missed It

Disclaimer: If you are a rabid prairie-dog defender, you might want to skip this item.

We got a news release from the Colorado Cattlemen's Association (CCA) praising a recent decision from the Colorado Department of Wildlife (DOW) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to "block-clear" all black-tailed prairie dog habitat in the eastern half of the state, including Boulder County.

The cattlemen's association claims in the release that it worked with the DOW to lift restrictions on killing prairie dogs, restrictions that had been meant to protect wild black-footed ferrets. "There have been no reported sightings of a black-footed ferret in this area for many decades, and contrary to some beliefs, prairie-dog populations are exploding out here," says R.J. Jolly, a CCA member. "This will eliminate one very difficult and unnecessary hurdle in managing the population of prairie dogs in this area."

By "manage," of course, they mean exterminate. Amy Bader of the CCA told Boulder Weekly that prairie dogs do a lot of destruction to open range used by cattle ranchers, such as reducing the amount of grass for cattle to graze on.

The decision means cattle ranchers no longer have to meet the Fish and Wildlife Service's survey guidelines for the ferrets, and will not have to "undergo consultation under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act," the release says.

Sandy Vana-Miller, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says that the CCA actually did not participate in the decision, it was a decision made by her agency and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. She said that the "block-clear" was simply the removal of a recommendation that cattle ranchers contact officials before they begin wiping out black-tailed prairie dogs over a large tract of land, given that the prairie dogs are the primary food of an endangered species, the black-footed ferret.

Vana-Miller says that a 1989 guideline called for property owners to contact wildlife officials and conduct a survey of their land to detect possible endangered ferrets if they planned to poison black-tailed prairie dogs over more than 80 acres. She says it was a way for property owners to avoid violating the Endangered Species Act. That recommendation is no more, thanks to the "block-clear."

She stressed that it is not that protections on the prairie dogs are being lifted, it is that the protected predators of the prairie dogs, the ferrets, have been deemed to be no more in Eastern Colorado.

Now, don't y'all get confused about yer prairie dogs. This here "block-clear" only affects them black-tailed ones, not the white-tailed or Gunnison variety. Any restrictions on them varmints remain in effect.

Yeehaw, and get along little doggies.

Publishin Palin

So, what has Sarah Palin been doing with her free time since stepping down as Alaska governor in July? Apparently, writing.

She has finished her 400-page memoir, "Going Rogue: An American Life," ahead of schedule, just four months after her book deal was announced. It is now scheduled to be released even earlier, on Nov. 17.

Hmmm. Just in time for the holiday shopping season, ya know? You betcha.

Return of the Mall Crawl?

So, as of Tuesday, 709 people had joined a Facebook group in favor of bringing back the Boulder "Mall Crawl" on Pearl Street this Halloween.

Remember the Mall Crawl in the 1980s? Yeah, it's all a bit fuzzy for us too.

Something about being naked, high as a kite, in a tree.

In recent years, Halloween on the mall has been more about kids trick-or-treating from store to store. Seems we could have a small problem if we don't coordinate this a bit. Would hate to have our impressionable 5-year-olds be exposed to an impromptu, drunken orgy in front of the courthouse.

Somebody should create a schedule: kids trick-or-treating from 5 to 7 p.m., wealthy Boulder couples walking hand-in-hand after dinner from 7 to 9 p.m., and total chaos from 9 p.m. until the wee hours.

Of course, that may be too heavy-handed. One person on the Facebook page urged organizers to let it happen organically, by word of mouth, without involving the media, because media attention will only lead to a crackdown by the city.

Ssshh.

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