Save Highlands Ranch Open Space Native Wildlife

We encourage Metro Districts to conserve our native Colorado wildlife. We oppose thinning and other lethal controls of prairie dog colonies in our open spaces. The term "relocating" for the black footed ferret program really means extermination - gassing and freezing for feeding purposes and we oppose this treatment of our native wildlife.

Relocation... The Real Story

Highlands Ranch Metro Districts uses the term %u201Crelocation,%u201D a misleading term at best, for the death of these prairie dogs. Prairie dogs slated for %u201Crelocation%u201D are in actuality, vacuumed and or trapped, and subsequently killed and frozen as food for black-footed ferrets--or caged for up to one month for live-feeding purposes. These prairie dogs are forced to endure heartbreakingly inhumane conditions.

Highlands Ranch Metro Districts has implemented a %u201CPrairie Dog Conservation Policy%u201D which does not promote the conservation of prairie dogs, and contributes to the decline of other wildlife in and around open space habitats. Metro Districts Open Space routinely %u201Cthins%u201D prairie dog colonies, removing a large percentage of the colony. This thinning creates an unnatural state for the animals and higher birth rates the following spring (normal birth rates are 3 %u2013 4 pups, once a year).  Thinning performed on other species has resulted in population explosions.  This is a cruel and expensive method of controlling populations, and no other counties we know of use this practice.  Prairie dogs have proven very effective at controlling their own populations, killing up to 50% of their own young when faced with barriers to expansion.

The prairie dog is a Keystone Species.  Scientists now understand that more than 160 species are dependent to a greater or lesser degree on the prairie dog.  With its abrupt decline, we are in great danger of losing many other species

We urge you to make a difference. Highlands Ranch citizens are increasingly speaking up in defense of native wildlife species such as the prairie dog. We CAN send a clear message to Metro Districts policy makers that we will not stand idly by while our last remaining natural areas are sterilized.

Prairie Dog Myths:

Myth #1: Prairie Dog Populations are Abundant. In actuality, prairie dog populations are 1- 2% of their historic numbers.

Myth #2: Prairie Dogs Spread the Plague. In reality, prairie dogs lack immunity to the plague and, consequently, the mortality rate for infected prairie dogs is 99%. From 1957-2002, only six cases of the plague were directly linked to prairie dogs, and of those six cases, only one was a fatality. Additionally, plague in humans is easily treatable with standard antibiotics.

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