City approves prairie dog poison

Glenn Eagle did the math.

He counted the number of prairie dog burrows on one acre at Ned Houk Park, multiplied it by the 3,200 acres in the city-owned park north of Clovis, and arrived at the estimate of 50,000 burrows — though not all the burrows are inhabited, he said.

Eagle was one of several landowners with property adjacent to Ned Houk Park who approached the Clovis City Commission last week for help in eradicating the burrowing rodents. They are worried the football-size burrowing rodents will migrate to their property.

Prairie dogs have eaten his oat crop in the past, Eagle said, and he's worried they eat the oats again this spring.

He also said the rodents are destroying the park by eating the grass and making erosion problems worse.

CMI staff photo: Tony Bullocks

Prairie dogs roam Ned Houk Park Friday afternoon.

Clovis city commissioners on Friday morning approved an emergency budget transfer to purchase 250 containers of Rozol rodenticide to reduce the population of prairie dogs at park.

The vote was 6-1, with Commissioner Len Vohs opposing.

"It might be the right thing to do," Vohs said. "I didn't have enough information to make a decision today."

Commissioner Sandra Taylor-Sawyer was absent from the meeting.

The budget transfer is not to exceed $25,000; it will come from the general fund cash reserve.

City Manager Joe Thomas said city officials intend to begin the application of Rozol at the park sometime next week. Environmental regulations prohibit the use of Rozol after March 15, so Thomas said the time constraint will prevent officials from covering the entire park. The Rozol is placed inside the prairie dog burrows.

The label on Rozol reads, "Apply bait in locations out of reach of children, pets, domestic animals, and non-target wildlife."

Thomas said most of the areas where Rozol will be applied is undeveloped, and warning signage will be placed at regular intervals in the affected area.

By law prairie dog carcasses must be collected every one to two days for two weeks after application to prevent wildlife from ingesting a contaminated carcass.

Clovis resident Susan Hubby appealed to the commission Friday that non-lethal solutions such as relocation and barriers be used at Ned Houk Park.

Landowners told city officials they don't have time to wait until the end of June for prairie dog relocation (relocation cannot be performed in the spring because mother prairie dogs will stay in the nest and drown when workers try to flush them out with a soapy-liquid mix).

Landowners, such as Eagle are skeptical that anything other than poison will work.

"I'm terribly heartbroken over this," Hubby said in regards to the commission's decision. "I'll never give up the fight for prairie dogs."

Hubby is concerned about the long-term effects of Rozol on the park's ecosystem.

Commissioners Dan Stoddard and Robert Sandoval expressed interest in relocating prairie dogs from problem areas throughout the city in the future.

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