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Prairie dogs’ days are numbered in Frederick


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For the residents of Frederick, “get along little doggie” is soon going to be more than an old-fashioned saying from the Wild West—it will be an edict from the town that homeowners must “remove” prairie dogs on private property or face a fine of up to $1,000.

The new ordinance will go into effect on March 1 and not long thereafter, the city will be walking its talk, with plans to exterminate two prairie dog colonies on March 5.

According to the Longmont Times-Call, the effort will cost the town about $20,000 and the death sentence was handed down after Frederick officials tried but failed to remove the pesky plague-susceptible animals to another location.

“It’d be nice to say we’re going to relocate them, but then you have to find someone who wants to receive them. This is also very difficult,” the paper quoted Public Works Director Tony Huerta as saying.

The new ordnance requiring private property owners to get in on the act is modeled after one in nearby Firestone, which also lists ground squirrels, pocket gophers (the annoyances of “Caddyshack” fame and which are actually pretty cute), jackrabbits and rats as among its “pest rodents.”

As the Times-Call notes, prairie dogs are a pain, as hard to get rid of as fleas. But they’re also ecologically important, deemed to be a keystone species upon which other species rely. They are prey to hawks, eagles, ferrets and badgers and their borrows are used as nests by burrowing owls and mountain plovers.

Once the colonies are eradicated, though, they could become something of a buffet for scavengers. One pest control company (not the one Frederick has contracted with) lists some things that could happen after prairie dogs have been exterminated. Among them: “Coyotes, red fox, dogs, swift fox, skunks, and badgers will dig into sealed mounds, pull out, and eat the dead prairie dogs. Some of this type of dig-out usually follows a treatment in from one to ten days.

“Do not mistake this activity for failure of the fumigation.”

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