Those who stood at the corner of Broadway and Canyon today in downtown Boulder want to prevent the prairie dog town at the Armory in north Boulder from being euthanized. They want the City of Boulder to stop killing off prairie dog colonies and to transfer them to open space. Holding signs that read, “STOP THE BOULDER Prairie Dog Slaughter,” and “Killing is never the solution!” some from the group mimicked prairie dog barks to the support of several passersby.
Paula Stephani says that “her neighbors” have been here centuries longer than she has, so she wants to protect their right to life.
Carse Pustmueller is also a neighbor of the Armory colony and said that the existing colony is the “remnant population of a huge prairie dog colony that used to be in North Boulder. But now all the development has fenced them in.”
Eight and a half acres are the home of a prairie dog colony that has survived the surrounding construction and development that has been the defining attribute of North Boulder.
Those who remember the days of the military vehicles and equipment traveling down Broadway Street from the Colorado National Guard Armory on the southeast corner of Broadway and Lee Hill Drive have expressed that they are happy to see it gone, and others have expressed that they welcome the new proposed development at the location that is slated to be a future artist hub.
The group does not fault developers Bruce Dierking and Jim Loftus whom they say are willing to relocate the colony, find a transfer location and pay for the transfer. They have even offered a $5000 reward to the finder of a new location. But the complications for such an endeavor have proven to be difficult to overcome. For one, permissions are needed to the donor county from the recipient county if the dogs are located outside county borders.
According to Wildlands Defense, historically about 98 percent of all prairie dogs have been exterminated mostly by federal government sponsored poisoning programs that saw a peak in the early 1920s but still continue today. Locally, Boulder County Parks and Open Space has refused to accept the colony and the city has refused to locate them to another part of the city. Protesters say that the city instead supports agricultural programs that result in personal profit and are far more destructive to the land than prairie dogs are.
The group wants the city to locate the dogs to Open Space south of Boulder. Boulder Urban Wildlife Coordinator Val Matheson has reported that the city has 697 other acres of prairie dogs to move this year although none is in danger of being poisoned; the colonies are subject to be removed because of their obstruction to agriculture. Protesters said they want the colony to be relocated onto ten of the 24,000 acres of grassland most of which the city currently leases out for agriculture.
Being a keystone species supporting other animal and endangered species, member of Wildlands Defense say once the prairie dog is gone, so too will other species. Burrowing owls, horned larks, badgers, black-footed ferrets, raptors, and other endangered species of plants and animals all depend on the prairie dog or the intricate burrows that they construct.
Other protesters though, simply love prairie dogs as one person yelled to cars,
“Want to save some prairie dogs? They kiss. They open mouth kiss. Go online!”