Board opposes prairie dog relocation

July 30, 2013 • Local News

Chaves County Commissioners want no part of a federal plan to relocate an unwanted population of prairie dogs currently burrowing holes across Clovis.

As a result, the commission will hold a public hearing Thursday, Aug. 15, on an ordinance that would prohibit the importation and relocation of prairie dogs and other rodent pests into or within Chaves County, commissioners decided Tuesday.

Clovis City Commissioners already unanimously decided in mid-July to decline a request by an Albuquerque group to capture the squirrel-like creatures and move them to a Bureau of Land Management property in Chaves County.

The group, called Citizens for Prairie Dogs, asked for some 3,000 gallons of city water to [auth] flush the animals out of their burrows on city land to relocate them humanely.

Apparently, the prairie dogs didn’t get much support at the Clovis meeting. Accounts of the creatures being found in city pools and holes in youth baseball practice fields were reported. A suggestion was made to poison the animals on public property.

Chaves County Commissioner James Duffey attended the Clovis meeting, where he said, reportedly, the county spends thousands of dollars to eradicate prairie dogs.

“They are rodents,” he told the City Commissioners.

Curry County adopted a similar ordinance earlier this month.

The ordinance, which will be heard 9 a.m. at the County Chambers, proposes that the county declares that prairie dogs and feral hogs imported, relocated and/or are harbored on lands in Chaves County and are not controlled, contained or otherwise confined presents a safety issue to the public and property.

The ordinance would make it unlawful for any person, firm, entity or agency to import or bring into the county any animal that has been designated by the county, state or U.S., to be harmful, injurious and detrimental to county citizens.

Any landowner, person or entity found to violate the ordinance would be guilty of a pretty misdemeanor and could be punished by a fine of $100-$300 for every offense, plus additional damages.

In other business, commissioners approved a six-month freeze on the building of new subdivisions as a way to regulate domestic water wells during the drought crisis.

“At the end of the day, we have to deal with these issues,” said Commissioner Greg Nibert. “Right now, our subdivision ordinance is not working in the drought conditions we’re in. It’s time we get out in front with this.”

The county moratorium was suggested by the Pecos Valley Artesian Conservancy District earlier this month as a way to protect the region’s water supply.

Commissioners discussed reviewing the subdivision ordinance in the next six months as it relates to domestic wells.

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