An Endangered Colony Of Prairie Dogs To Be Relocated To Make Room For Housing Development In Boulder, Colorado

A colony of prairie dogs is being relocated to make room for a housing development in Boulder, Colorado.

On Saturday, Boulder will begin moving dozens of prairie dogs from the soon-to-be redeveloped Armory property in north Boulder to city-owned open space, reports the Daily Camera.

After Boulder residents protested a proposal to build apartments and townhomes on the property where 80 to 120 prairie dogs call home, the Boulder City Council accepted $60,000 from developer Bruce Dierking to move the prairie dogs from the Armory to the city-owned Southern Grasslands conservation area managed by the Open Space and Mountain Parks division.

“Recognizing the community’s desire to protect the prairie dog colony… [the City] reached an agreement with the Armory property owner to relocate the colony to city open space so that he can develop his land on Broadway. As part of the agreement, the city and the property owner negotiated a $60,000 fee.”

According to a press release, the city’s open space departments and urban wildlife coordinator will begin moving the prairie dog colony from 4750 N. Broadway to a spot east of Cherryvale Road and north of Marshall Drive between Saturday and Nov. 1, reports Fox 31.

“Live traps will be set out at the site and pre-baited for a period of no less than four days. Once trapping begins, the relocator expects to have an experienced wildlife biologist frequently onsite to monitor prairie dog activity on the trap site, and expects to release non-target wildlife and collect trapped prairie dogs approximately every two hours during daylight hours. Once collected, traps containing prairie dogs will be covered and moved to a protected area to await transport to the release site.”

Dierking plans to build 200 apartments and townhomes on the land the colony currently sits on.

Before Dierking settled on paying the city $60,000 to move the prairie dogs, he offered $5,000 to any private land owner willing to accept the prairie dogs for relocation, but nothing suitable emerged.

Once trapped, the prairie dogs will be checked for injury or illness and sprayed with insecticidal spray before being released, according to officials.

“Over the past month, city staff has been working with interested community members, the Armory developer, his contractor, Boulder County Department of Public Health and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to prepare the open space receiving site to help ensure a safe, successful and humane relocation of the Armory prairie dog colony.”

The 16.5-acre open space site the prairie dogs are being sent to will be closed to the public until Dec. 15 to allow the prairie dogs time to adapt to their new home.

This is not the first time the city has accepted prairie dogs from private property. In the late 1990s and the early 2000s, the City of Boulder allowed hundreds of prairie dogs to be transported to city open space.

“By about 2003, the population of prairie dogs increased significantly, and, unfortunately, several colonies began to compromise the integrity and biodiversity of the grassland ecosystem, leading to decline of native plant communities, loss of topsoil, and the need for dust abatement and erosion management on some prairie dog colonies.”

In 2003, the city began limiting the relocation of prairie dogs from private property to city open space to “preserve important grassland ecosystems and to lessen conflict with agricultural operators.”

After protests from community members, the city reconsidered its long-standing practice of not receiving prairie dogs from private property in this particular circumstance.

[Featured Image by Kerstin Joensson/AP Images]