The killing of Lubbock's Prairie Dogs has been halted. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has given the city more time to evaluate the groundwater contamination issue, before poisoning thousands of Prairie Dogs.
A land application site east of town is in question. Prairie Dogs roam and burrow across this land, above the aquifer, and the TCEQ said at first, they were contaminating it but now they want a more scientific study before they are removed.
While many think Prairie Dogs are a fixture in West Texas, others think the rodents should be removed. Either way, for now the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says they stay. "The original order or plan was to eradicate the Prairie Dogs but after talking to several experts and other state agencies on the issue we figured we needed more scientific information on the cause of the problem in Lubbock," says Andy Saenz, the TCEQ Communications Director.
Saenz says the City will start a new study to determine if there are other elements affecting the water or if the problem really is just the Prairie Dogs. "The bottom line is nobody's going to be killing any Prairie Dogs anytime soon, we have to get down to the basic issue of what is the source and how can we fix it."
Mayor Marc McDougal says this is good news for the City. "Our first priority is to make sure we have a good water in our aquifer, and if that means eradicating the Prairie Dogs then that's what we'll do, but I also appreciate and understand the people that want to save the Prairie Dogs and certainly if there is something we can do to accommodate both we will."
One of the people trying to save the Prairie Dogs is Lynda Watson. Watson has raised Prairie Dogs for about 15 years and has spent the last few months relocating about 2,500 from the land application site. "This removes a lot of ammunition from the City, my firm conviction is that if the City kills a single Prairie Dog it will not be because they have to it will be because they want to, I am very convinced there are some underlying issues here. I don't believe this all started because we're worried about our water quality. I hope this is a step in the right direction, but I do not think it is the end of the battle," said Watson.
Watson says she'll continue relocating Prairie Dogs thanks to the help she's getting from across the world. She's been transporting them to state parks, dude ranch's and zoo's.
As for the City McDougal says their plan is to look at more options, maybe even moving the Prairie Dogs to the corners of the land away from where the water directly drains into the ground.