January 11, 2019
Prairie Dog Removal Requirements Finalized
The Longmont City Council voted 5-2 to approve an ordinance that requires property owners to try and move more than 25 prairie dogs before euthanizing them. The ordinance is indirectly linked to the Council’s goal to” protect and respect our natural public amenities as part of the development process.”
The City Council had directed staff to revise the City’s Land Use Development Code to close “prairie dog loopholes” last spring following complaints from prairie dog advocates. The ordinance will require a permit for the removal of prairie dogs regardless of the number of animals. It also mandates a public notice for extermination.
Landowners must attempt to move larger colonies to a “qualified receiving site.” Prairie dog activists will be responsible for moving the animals. Staff will be charged with ascertaining if a landowner has made a “good faith effort.” Staff estimates there are 25 colonies of greater than 25 prairie dogs on public land but according to Dan Wolford, they have no idea how many exist on private land.
Bonnie Finley and Marcia Martin were the two Council members opposed to the ordinance. Martin said she opposed it because the Council had spent “Way too much time on this” when there are greater concerns.
How onerous will the ordinance be for developers? It is bound to add extra expense to development. For example, an applicant is responsible for proving the number of prairie dogs falls below the limit of 25 animals. How? Will the developer have to hire a wildlife specialist? Undoubtedly, prairie dog activists will be watching carefully and could easily challenge any estimates.