City Hammering Out Plan to Relocate Prairie Dogs - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

7/23/02

City Hammering Out Plan to Relocate Prairie Dogs

The City of Lubbock says it will meet its deadline. The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, or TNRCC is giving Lubbock until August 6th to come up with a plan to control the prairie dog population east of the city. The TNRCC says the prairie dog colony is growing so fast over there that it could present a ground water contamination concern. Most are in agreement that the prairie dog population east of Lubbock is out of control, there are just several arguments about the best way to get it under control.

Welcome to the new unofficial prairie dog town. More prairie dogs make their home just off 50th St. in east Lubbock County than any other place in the county. The problem? This land is also the city's 1,700 acre Land Application Site, which is where the city spreads its treated sewage water. The TNRCC says the prairie dog holes are deep enough to allow that sewage water to contaminate the ground water and has given the city no other choice but to control the dogs.

"If not comply with the mandate, the TNRCC could fine us and force us to fix the problem anyway. We have to thin out the population," says City Manager Bob Cass.

So, for the past month and a half the city has been working on a plan. The plan they have come up with so far is:

  • Provide a period of time for relocation of as many prairie dogs as practical.
  • Provide a new prairie dog and burrowing owl preservation area.
  • Implement control measures for remaining prairie dogs. This would mean killing them with pesticides or gases.

Right now, the city is still hammering out a plan, but some groups like the Llano Estacado Native American Society are offering their help. This crew has been hired by that society to relocate some of the dogs and the city has given them the okay. The problem with relocation efforts like this is that they are likely the most expensive way to control prairie dogs because of the catcher costs, vet costs, and transportation costs of relocating.

"It's definitely cheaper to kill them, but I wonder in this world if we just kill everything because it's cheaper, is there going to be anything left?," says Lynda Watson.

A committee will choose one or more of the proposals to control the prairie dogs, and then city council will vote on which proposals to fund.

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