Federal Agents Harass Deep Green Resistance Members

Apparently, we’re doing something right.

[From The Guardian]

Lawyer for Deep Green Resistance ‘interrogated repeatedly’ at US border

Environmental activists for Deep Green Resistance in seven states say they have been questioned and harassed by US federal agents at work and at home

 Larry Hildes at a protest in 2007. Photograph: Supplied

Larry Hildes at a protest in 2007. Photograph: Supplied

Adam Federman

Monday July 6, 2015 0700 EDT

Deanna Meyer lives on a sprawling 280-acre goat farm south of Boulder, Colorado. She’s been an activist most of her adult life and has recently been involved in a campaign to relocate a prairie dog colony threatened by the development of a shopping mall in Castle Rock.

In October of last year, an agent with the Department of Homeland Security showed up at her mother’s house and later called her, saying he was trying to “head off any injuries or killing of people that could happen by people you know”.

Meyer was one of more than a dozen environmental activists, many of them members of the environmental group Deep Green Resistance, contacted by the FBI, DHS and state law enforcement investigators in late 2014. In one case they wanted to know if Deep Green Resistance was a front group for another organization involved in violent activity or sabotage.

“Coming after me like this is not going to get them anything”
Larry Hildes, civil rights lawyer

Now the activists’ lawyer, Larry Hildes, seems to have been swept up in the investigation himself. On several occasions, Hildes says, he has been detained at border crossings for lengthy interrogations and questioned about Meyer.

The story was first reported in January but, until now, members of Deep Green Resistance had not spoken publicly about the wave of visits, which began with a call to the parents of an activist in Clearwater, Florida, on 1 October. Eight members of Deep Green Resistance and two other activists not affiliated with the group who were contacted around the same time have since come forward to the Guardian.

The activists recounted a mix of FBI visits from October to December as agents showed up at their workplaces, their homes, and in some cases contacted their families seeking information about Deep Green Resistance – and, in one case, asking a member if she was interested in “forming a liaison”. They were also purportedly interested in activist work surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline.

The sweeping inquiry, which targeted activists in at least seven states, appears to have been an effort to cultivate informants or intimidate activists engaging in a variety of environmental causes.

The FBI declined to comment for this story and in a written statement said the agency is “not permitted to discuss what may or may not be an open investigation”. DHS did not respond to a request for comment.

The activists were contacted just four months after the FBI’s Houston division formally closed an 18-month investigation into anti-Keystone campaigners in Texas. That investigation, according to internal agency documents obtained by the Guardian and Earth Island Journal, was opened without proper approval from the agency’s chief legal counsel and a senior special agent, resulting in a report of “substantial non-compliance” with rules set out by the US justice department.

Hildes, who has worked with scores of activists throughout his 20-year career as a civil rights lawyer, including organizations that have been infiltrated by the FBI, says that he has never been detained and questioned about one of his clients. It’s unclear why they would target him, he says, but he’s growing tired of the harassment – living close to Canada in Bellingham, Washington, he and his wife travel across the border frequently, sometimes just for dinner.

“Coming after me like this is not going to get them anything,” says Hildes. “I’m not sure what they think they’re accomplishing.”

‘Forming liaisons’
Meyer first heard that an agent with the Department of Homeland Security was looking for her when one visited her mother’s house on 10 October 2014. The agent left a card and, according to Meyer, said he was “trying to check up on me”.

Four days later Meyer received a call from the same agent, who asked if she had time to talk about her involvement with an environmental group. She said no and gave him Hildes’ number, in accordance with Deep Green Resistance’s strict security guidelines.

Deanna Meyer. Photograph: Supplied

Deanna Meyer. Photograph: Supplied

According to Meyer, the agent then assured her she was not in trouble and that he wanted to work on “forming a liaison” with her. They chatted briefly and Meyer pressed the agent to clarify what he meant by forming a liaison. According to Meyer, the agent finally said he wanted to “head off any injuries or killing of people that could happen by people you know”.

At that point Meyer cut off the conversation and told the agent that he could contact her lawyer. She never heard from him again.

In early May when Hildes returned from a trip to Cuba, he was detained at Miami international airport for three hours and eventually questioned about Meyer.

A few weeks later, on 29 May, driving back to Bellingham from Canada late at night, he was detained at the Peach Arch border crossing and aggressively questioned.

The border agents told him it was a routine agricultural check but showed little interest in the car and after several minutes started inquiring about Meyer, Hildes said.

Hildes indicated that she was one of his clients and they asked him what he did, seemingly unaware of his professional background. He told them he was a lawyer and they then asked him what kind of law he practices. “Civil rights,” Hildes told them. “We sue government agencies.”

Hildes was stopped a third time on 20 June coming back from Vancouver and asked to fill out a customs declaration, which has never happened to him before, and held him up for nearly an hour. The car was inspected and eventually, with no explanation, he was told he was free to go.

Workplace visits
On the morning of 16 October, two days after Meyer was contacted by phone, two agents, including a special agent in the FBI’s Portland division, showed up at B. Hayworth’s office in downtown Portland. At the time, Hayworth, who asked that her first name be withheld, was working as an office manager and executive assistant at a freight brokerage firm.

Hayworth, who is the contact coordinator for Deep Green Resistance’s Lower Columbia branch, knew that members had been receiving phone calls from the FBI, so she wasn’t completely surprised. But she didn’t have Hildes’ number and felt compromised with two agents in her office, which she shared with the company’s only other employee, her boss. Hayworth, a 45-year-old mother of three, said she was one paycheck away from homelessness and terrified of losing her job.

“I knew that if I got fired I wouldn’t get unemployment,” Hayworth said. “That was homelessness for us within like a month.”

To get the agents to leave before her boss returned she told them she would meet them at a nearby Starbucks after work but never went, instead going home early.

Eleven days later the agents showed up at her office again. They had been waiting outside the door and went in as soon as her boss stepped out.

The agents sat down and, according to Hayworth, said they wanted to talk about Deep Green Resistance. Hayworth gave them a piece of paper with Hildes’ name and number on it and asked them to leave.

According to Hayworth they refused to leave, saying that Hildes couldn’t answer their questions, only she could. Increasingly concerned that her boss would return to find two agents at her desk, she went outside with them and had a brief conversation.

“We want the details and … I want it to stop”
Larry Hildes

They said they were interested in learning more about an ongoing speaking tour on the “False Promises of Green Tech” hosted by Deep Green Resistance, and discussions of violence that might have occurred at some of those meetings. Deep Green Resistance, formed in 2012, is open about its support of underground movements while its members simultaneously adhere to a code of conduct that includes a commitment to nonviolence and operating aboveground.

 

 A protester in Portland holds a placard against the Keystone XL pipeline. Photograph: Alex Milan Tracy/Demotix/Corbis

A protester in Portland holds a placard against the Keystone XL pipeline. Photograph: Alex Milan Tracy/Demotix/Corbis

 

The organization, an outgrowth of the book of the same name, espouses a radical philosophy called “decisive ecological warfare”, which it describes as “the last resort of a movement isolated, co-opted, and weary from never ending legal battles and blockades”.

Following the same line of inquiry pursued with Meyer, the agents ultimately asked if Deep Green Resistance “ever has any rogue individuals who just go off and start blowing stuff up”. They also visited Carson Wright, a fellow Deep Green Resistance member and friend of Hayworth’s, at his workplace to ask him about his involvement with the group. Another activist, Dayna Conner, whose ex-husband was visited in southern Illinois and questioned about her, says that they asked if Deep Green Resistance was a front group for another organization involved in violence or sabotage.

As the lawyer for many of the activists contacted by the FBI in October 2014, Hildes reached out to the agency seeking more information about the inquiry and whether any of his clients were part of a criminal investigation. He was told that they were not but received no further details about the FBI’s interest in Deep Green Resistance.

He advised his clients not to talk to the FBI and in Hayworth’s case called one of the agents involved and left him a message to leave her alone. But judging from Hildes’ recent troubles at the border and the intense questioning about his client, Deanna Meyer, the case seems far from closed.

“At this point we want to know what’s going on,” says Hildes, “we want the details and also personally I want it to stop.”

Adam Federman is a contributing editor of Earth Island Journal.

 

A Case Study in Activism and Resistance: The Castle Rock Prairie Dog Campaign

The DGR Southwest Coalition recently held their annual Southwest Gathering, sharing skills & good food, strengthening interpersonal bonds, and engaging in many valuable discussions & strategy sessions. As part of the gathering, Deanna Meyer of Deep Green Resistance Colorado joined Brian Ertz of Wildlands Defense to discuss the recent campaign against a Castle Rock mega-mall development. We’ve reported here a little bit on the struggle, and are excited to share this video of Meyer and Ertz describing the campaign in more detail.

The campaign initially petitioned the developer to “do the right thing”: delay construction until June, so threatened prairie dogs on-site could be relocated with the best chance of survival. Though this relocation would have left the prairie dogs as refugees, displaced from their homes and with the rest of their community killed, at least they would have a chance to try to rebuild their lives. When the developer responded by poisoning the prairie dogs en masse (along with many other creatures, as well as some human casualties), the campaign focused on saving those prairies dogs  who were left, and on making an example of the developer by inflicting as much pain as possible.

The campaigners were unable to stop the development or to save all the prairie dogs, but their dedicated grassroots organizing succeeded in achieving their secondary objectives. They forced the developer to halt construction for months, allowing workers to rescue those prairie dogs who survived the mass slaughter. They’ve probably cost the developer millions of dollars and countless headaches, demonstrating the practical value to future developers of doing the right thing from the start. As well, the activists recruited some allies and potential new members, and planted the seeds of a culture of resistance along the Front Range.

Learn how these defenders of life leveraged their strengths to overcome a powerful opponent despite mainstream environmental groups saying, “it can’t be done”, and how they plan to build on their win:

See more videos at the Deep Green Resistance Youtube channel

Learning to Resist: Fighting Development in Castle Rock , CO to Protect Life, Land and Prairie Habitat

by Deanna Meyer

Last spring as the grasses started greening up and springing across the landscape, I joyfully drove through one of the most magnificent prairie dog colonies left along Colorado’s Front Range. Almost two hundred acres were packed full of the cozy little families all basking in the sun, rolling on the burrows, kissing and playing. The happiness that coursed through me knowing that these beautiful creatures were alive, fat and happy ended abruptly with a knotted stomach when I knew they wouldn’t be here much longer. 4 dogsEvery colony of prairie dogs, existing today in the small pockets of remaining prairies, is in danger. Every. Single. One. And why? Because of growth. Metastatic growth of our towns and profit lines. Because of the ranchers’ ability to dominate the land with livestock grazing. Because of the deep underlying ignorance of a population that has been fed so many myths that they have forgotten the truth hidden in reality while a false world of predation continually destroys the living systems that matter most to the continued cycle of life.

Now when I drive through the same area the land is no longer alive with the thousands of prairie dogs that once raced through the landscape, back and forth over burrows, bringing joy to this place and feeding various birds and living creatures. The land is now eerily quiet. No more chirping sounds echoing through the land. Their calls of warning and communication that once brought the land to life, brought the sounds of the living to us, to the people who cared, are now silenced. I take in the sights and smells of a now poisoned land. The memories are still seeping fresh out of the ground and into my mind. Conceiving what once was, only a few short months ago, and what now is, breaks me down into pieces of outrage and sorrow. A few lone survivors peep out and timidly witness what was once their colony’s home. They look sad and lonely, longing for their lives to be what they once were. Their chirping sounds have changed, and will never be the same.

In November of 2014, I saw an article with the headline “Castle Rock getting one of nation’s largest new malls.” I knew what this meant – the death of thousands of prairie dogs. For a mall. Thousands of prairie dogs for a mall that few want and no one needs. I began calling the obvious people for help with the support of my organization, Deep Green Resistance (DGR), as we looked for someone who would help stop the killing of the prairie dogs. We called upon the Humane Society’s Prairie Dog Coalition, WildEarth Guardians, Alberta Development Partners, LLC, and the Town of Castle Rock, all of which were not much help at all. The Prairie Dog Coalition, a relocator with Growing Ideas, a local activist and myself met with the developers. We asked that they allow us to relocate the prairie dogs in June once the mothers had their babies and we could safely and viably relocate the colony. Alberta Development didn’t have much to offer and the most “generous” deal they would give us was to push 100+ acres of prairie dogs into 7 acres of unsuitable drainage land. This was not a viable option. The Prairie Dog Coalition and Southern Plains Land Trust decided that the only available option for them was to get money for the soon to be dead prairie dogs and began begging Alberta Development for mitigation.

The one and only organization of the many I called that came through for the prairie dogs was WildLands Defense. The Board President, Brian Ertz, immediately came to my assistance and began empowering the cause to save this vibrant colony of prairie dogs. More importantly, Ertz prioritized the goals of saving prairie land in general and the habitats themselves over mitigation and damage control. These goals were much broader than relocating or taking money for dead prairie dogs. I immediately became a member and we launched ourselves into this campaign with a variety of strategies: legal; social; media; protests; organizing; and campaign building. All tactics came together as we built up sympathy with the entire world for the plight of the Castle Rock prairie dogs.

On February 17th of this year, people concerned about the large colony of prairie dogs flooded the Castle Rock Town Council meeting and 18 individuals gave incredibly powerful speeches asking the council to consider the wildlife, specifically the prairie dogs, on the Promenade site. The speeches were articulate, clear, from the heart and well informed. Citizens were asking the council to consider postponing the zoning and planned development plan for the mega-mall so that the prairie dogs could be viably relocated in June. With no consideration for the speeches, the council moved to unanimously approve the project and ignore the citizens of Castle Rock and wildlife advocates. Advocates and residents showed up again to the March 3rd meeting for the second reading of the zoning amendment and faced the council with inspiringly beautiful speeches. The council, once again, without hesitation, approved the project and ignored all of the voices of the people. Pressure continued to mount against Alberta Development and the Castle Rock Town Council, but it fell on deaf ears as they refused to take us seriously.

On March 10, Alberta Development made the decision to bring in an extermination company, Animal and Pest Control Specialists, to use the lethal and extremely dangerous pesticide, Fumitoxin, to eradicate this beautiful colony of prairie dogs. Prairie dog supporters protested loud and long as they witnessed the horror unfold. The prairie dogs we fought so hard to save were gassed in their burrows. Castle Rock Police were on the scene protecting the exterminators from the protesters, allowing illegal application of the poison but not the physical expression of our outrage. Fumitoxin causes a slow agonizing death for those unfortunate enough to be gassed with the poison. deaddogThey bleed from the inside out for 3-7 days. Many of the prairie dogs desperately tried digging themselves out of their holes as they experienced the horror only to die on the surface. Activists witnessed ravens dropping dead out of the sky, found red-winged black birds dead on the surface and bunnies writhing in pain to their deaths. The landscape was poisoned and all who touched it faced the same horrible death. Several activists were hospitalized from the poison and many more had symptoms from the poisoning.

After four days of poisoning, the exterminators killed over 95% of the prairie dog colony on the site. With hearts broken and rage brewing, the supporters drastically increased their efforts to bring publicity to this issue and to create consequences for the developers that would send a strong message out to any other entity that may be considering the eradication of prairie dog colonies in danger across the western landscape. WildLands Defense advised on-the-ground activists to put the final zoning ordinance for the mall up for a vote to the people by petitioning for a referendum.

Activists hit the streets of Castle Rock for the following month, opening up conversations with Castle Rock residents and listening to the concerns that residents had about the mega-mall and the metastatic growth of our town. We succeeded in getting the necessary signatures to put a multi-million dollar mall up for a vote by the people. The construction of the mall is now on hold until the referendum goes up for a vote. Our success incited rage among some conservatives in the town, and put the Town Council on edge and on notice. Suddenly, after countless town meetings in which petitioners, residents and concerned citizens were met with callous indifference and worse, the Council changed their tone and started to at least act like they were listening to concerns of the people.

The successful zoning referendum secured the immediate survival of the remaining prairie dogs on the site which is currently between 2 and 3 hundred, including new babies, that we are working to have relocated in June. Immediately after the poisoning, we were able to get 87 of them out of harm’s way and to a new land base.

WildLands Defense also initiated a flurry of requests to several of the prospective retailers of the mall from advocates and concerned citizens. These requests pressured the retailers to refrain from building on the Promenade site due to the unethical decisions of Alberta Development to slaughter thousands of animals, poison the land and treat concerned residents and wildlife advocates with complete disregard. Of these retailers, Whole Foods, Costco and Five Guys Burger and Fries made decisions to never build on the Castle Rock Promenade site. This caused immense damage to Alberta Development since these retailers were big elements of the said attractiveness of the mall to the people. WildLands Defense and our supporters plan to continue our relentless demands to prospective retailers insisting that ethical businesses refrain from building on the site of a mass poisoning of wildlife and land.

Alberta Development and the Castle Rock Town Council are surely regretting the decisions they made in February to ignore residents and allow for the approval of a zoning ordinance that gave a green light to Alberta to destroy one of the largest prairie dog colonies on Colorado’s Front Range. Concerned citizens and wildlife advocates were simply asking for a postponement in development so we could safely relocate the prairie dogs on the site slated for the huge mega-mall. Postponement is now secured for several more months than anticipated and the developer is struggling in desperation to convince activists to drop the referendum so he can proceed with his plans for the development of the mega-mall that will level hillsides, destroy further habitat and exacerbate the toxic growth in Castle Rock that many residents don’t want, and certainly no one needs.

The dedication, expertise and passion of WildLands Defense set an example for wildlife advocates on how to approach issues of short grass prairie protections by shifting from an ask nice approach to a political approach that demands attention. The ranching industry has control over our congress and the lawmakers because they know how to exert their power over the political sphere and make demands that promote their interests. Wildlife advocates must start the process of shifting our influence and power into the politics of the regions that destroy land and life by demanding that those in power begin to answer to the concerns of the people. Not until advocates exert power against policy makers and begin to insist on change will wildlife and wild lands be saved.

When I drive around the area that I have grown up in, in Douglas County and Castle Rock, I notice all around me the earth being churned up and replaced with concrete and death. There are numerous prairie dogs living on the landscape in many areas now slated for development and much of the land is going to be developed given the growth plan for our community that is in place with the town and county. The sounds of the prairie dogs chirping rise above the machinery and when you listen closely you can still hear a myriad of bird calls, of wind, of life rustling across the landscape. Life still exists here and wants to live. It is not too late to save what remains of our living planet and to insist on the regeneration of that life.

standing dogAs I head back to the beautiful land base where I live, about 15 miles from the town, I escape all of the mechanical clanging and arrive home. This is where the small handful of the remaining prairie dog survivors has been relocated. They are getting used to the new land, running back and forth, standing sentinel, chirping, jump-yipping, kissing and hugging in the sun. They are getting to know each other again in a different landscape, figuring out the new predators, and settling down in their new home. But their new home is not their true home; it is not where their ancestors have been for decades, where the bones of their loved ones and families are embedded in the land. This land is not where they originated, and they have been through hell on their way here. They will begin to adjust, to call the place home, but the tragedy that happened to them, because of development, must not be forgotten. They lost 95% of their families, their land, their loved ones and were handled, caged, flushed out of their only homes and forced to a foreign land because there are no protections in place for prairie dogs and the prairies they inhabit.

Relocations are not solutions because they do not protect living prairie lands, they do not protect the living beings that have depended on a particular land base for decades if not centuries. Feel-good approaches are just that, expensive but ineffective bandaids. If we are going to make a meaningful difference for life and stop the destruction of land while we retreat, remove and push survivors onto smaller and smaller corners, we need to take a step back and honestly assess our tactics and strategies. We must learn to be bold and begin the hard work of creating polices that initiate cornerstones for real protections of the living prairies we claim to love and fight for. The fight for the prairie dogs is the fight for living landscapes, for the soil, the fungus, the plants, insects, lizards, the species that all depend on that land and the living future of our planet. As a concerned living member of my community, I have learned to step back and assess the possibilities and the necessity that we must start fighting more aggressively and that we need to get to the root of the problems and attack those roots and work for permanent change. It is not enough to save 300 prairie dogs when thousands were gassed just in the last hour. It is not enough as the land that these beautiful animals once occupied is being raped, torn and dismembered. It is not enough to wring our hands in despair. We have to fight. Nothing will live if we don’t begin to fight in ways that the dominators are forced to pay attention to. What are you willing to do to stop the death machine hell bent on eradicating all life on this miraculous planet?

The activists of WildLands Defense in Castle Rock, Colorado made a huge impact in advocacy by resisting the system that allows and encourages the destruction of life with a heavy hand, forcing both government agencies and private developers to take concerns of wildlife and the citizens into account by affecting their own bottom line. Without the political apparatus of the referendum, all of the prairie dogs would have died and the developers, facing no financial or political loss, would continue to steamroll the path for future prairie dog massacres. Our actions have forced developers and town officials to take notice when a prairie dog colony is in harm’s way and local citizens approach them demanding that they do the right thing by taking the wildlife on the land into consideration, and this, of course, is not enough. Activists must continue to push forward and insist that both private and public land occupied by prairie dogs remain short grass prairies by creating policies that force developers and government entities to protect prairie dog habitat. The work ahead of us must change the status of the prairie dog from being considered a “nuisance” species into being the protected keystone species they are, holding our fragmented world into place.

gradingI received a call a few days ago that Alberta Development began grading the land (despite their promises to hold off on such activity) and that their activity was harming the few remaining prairie dogs on the site. Photos of this activity came through on my computer and my heart sank. It wasn’t all about the prairie dogs and the repeated horrors they had to witness as a result of this development. Central to my thoughts was the land, being violently ripped apart for a mega-mall. The earth churned, the plants ripped from their roots, never to grow again once the concrete is poured over the earth, the plovers nesting and flitting about everywhere, the chirping of the prairie dogs panicked, begging for it to stop.

Our group of activists was able to convince the developer to stop, as he claimed there were no prairie dogs there and they showed that certainly there were through videos and pictures. Shortly after, I got into my car and traveled down there to witness for myself the destruction of the land. The graders had churned the land in a circle and in the middle of that circle mountain plovers were flying everywhere looking for their nests, for their eggs and young ones that were growing in those nests in the ground. There were several prairie dogs in the middle running back and forth looking for their homes. The land was breathing the sweet smells of spring clovers and plants were flowering the scents of life, mixed with the churned dirt of mechanized destruction. All was quiet, no more machines, just the sound of the panicked animals and my heart breaking. I looked at the beautiful ridges on the land, at the green ground, at the numerous prairie dog burrows, the gamble oaks full of nests, the birds, the land, and I knew that things would shortly never be the same again. The land’s loss will weigh heavily in the earth, in my bones, in the spirits of the thousands upon thousands of living beings that are still, momentarily, there.

The story is the same everywhere we look. Life is being destroyed and exchanged for commerce, death and profit. Water sources are being sucked dry. Our kin, all of them, are endangered and few actions we take truly protect them. When will we, as activists who really do care about the living planet, take the necessary steps to protect those we love? When will our strategies shift to ones that step outside of the mainstream and into effective actions that curtail the destruction? What are we willing to do, and to risk, to stop the extermination of life as we know it on the planet? With the entire world at stake we are called on to do what is necessary to protect life, and we must answer with nothing less than actions that actually enforce those protections.

As I drive away from the land that was once vibrant with the life of thousands of prairie dogs, eagles, coyotes, grasses, plants, trees and so much more, I say farewell to those beings, those lives that have been stolen forever from the land. I see the plants that have boldly broken through the soil and I smell their scents as they communicate and I feel a deep sadness for what will come to them at the hands of the death churning machinery bringing material goods to a culture of people that are empty shells, willing to replace life for products that attempt to fill a never ending hole of sadness. I look in my rear view mirror and see the hills and the land I have become familiar with since I was a child. My heart breaks open as I realize those hills will be razed and the land will never be the same again.

castlerock2The rape and destruction will leave its story behind forever and the damage can never be undone. I stare ahead and see open prairie land surrounding the town and I know that the plan is for those prairies to become tract homes and developments. I bravely step forward and imagine the impossible, imagine that those lands will not be harmed and that the lives dependent on those lands will be able to continue their existence. My imagination of the impossible begins to turn into determination. The determination to keep the land alive, working with a group of concerned people with love in their hearts, insisting and working for those protections. We will protect the last remaining fragments of our world and insist on the impossible. Those hills and grasslands still exist. They are not being churned into pavement and we plan to keep them that way.

For more information on how you can get involved and help create protections for land and life, contact: info@wildlandsdefense.org

 

The Maul at Castle Rock

Readers who have frequented this site no doubt have heard of the massacre of prairie dogs resulting from developers who want to build the Promenade Mall in Castle Rock. Deep Green Resistance is happy to publish a deeper background story on the massacre by freelance journalist Suzanne Grover.

 

The Maul at Castle Rock

by Suzanne Grover

Empathy is not reserved for the odd few, it is a characteristic of the mighty, the wise, and the meek who shall inherit the Earth.

Empathy is not reserved for the odd few, it is a characteristic of the mighty, the wise, and the meek who shall inherit the Earth.

When a human has earned the trust of a wild animal, it’s an unspeakable honor. When that animal, or his fellows are threatened, a mothering instinct explodes with fury, and what feels like the wrath of God and all hell comes with it.

That fury, multiplied by tens of thousands, is what Alberta Development Partners, LLC. is facing right now.

Animals are adept at escaping danger. Sensing tsunamis they run to higher ground, sensing earthquakes they flee to open fields, and lightning-struck wildfires rarely catch up with them. What they can’t avoid is the trickery of humans armed with a WWI poison, which is mostly banned because of human fatalities, and taken by surprise with their escape routes sealed.

Some local folk in Castle Rock, Colorado, along with more than 3,500 people watching online, wept in horror when Alberta Development gave Ron Purcella’s pest control company the go-ahead to kill an estimated 1,000 to 1,500 prairie dogs on the company’s “Promenade” development site on March 9, 2015.

Raging protests, heart-wrenching pleas for mercy at town council meetings, enraged emails from citizens across the country, and even one nine-year-old Castle Rock boy’s handmade petition box did nothing to sway the council-supported developers’ decision to destroy what some are calling the oldest and most significant prairie dog colonies in Colorado’s front range. Purcella poisoned for three days, which is about how long it took for the suffering animals to finally die.

The developers had the legal right to do it — but the cheap shots were heard ’round the world.

“The exterminator was a real sicko,” said Joe Adair, the associate director of Bold Visions Conservation group which became involved after the poisoning started. “He enjoyed killing the prairie dogs, and doing anything he could to anguish the bystanders, the activists who were defending the (prairie dogs).”

Beth Ann Senderak, a Castle Rock local protesting on the site during the poisoning, dropped to her knees and wept in front of exterminators. Deanna Meyer, Castle Rock native was emotionally devastated and banned from the site with a restraining order by developers, others screamed their hearts out in protest. Folks across the nation from Washington State, to the eastern seaboard, with their hands clenched in fists of rage, emailed, posted, messaged, called and frantically signed petitions as the poisoning continued without hesitation. Stories were reported to have hit the press in Portugal and Thailand, and folks from the UK and Japan are also beginning to curse the developers.

It is generally agreed — it didn’t HAVE to happen.

And while Alberta is doing what other developers are doing all over the nation – to advocates, this is the last straw.

The developers defended their decision to eradicate the prairie dog population on their site, after the many options advocates say they were given, by releasing what they called a fact sheet. They said they “want to be good neighbors” and only when traps were destroyed by activists they “reluctantly determined the only solution was to mitigate prairie dogs on the site using Fumitoxin.” (Why developers chose the word mitigate is unclear. Mitigate means to make less severe, serious or painful, and Fumotoxin is anything BUT that. It causes animals to slowly bleed to death after convulsions and organ failure.) And a spur-of-the-moment decision to use such an egregious poison sounds questionable.

“How is killing all the natives being a good neighbor,” asked lead activist Deanna Meyer in disgust. “Converting the living into carrion and serving it on a concrete platter?”

Alberta goes on to say, “As you may know, Promenade at Castle Rock has attracted attention recently because a group of wildlife advocates, including members who do not live in Castle Rock, is campaigning against our project.”

Enraged by the “fact sheet” printed by the company (which isn’t from Castle Rock either), Julie Gallagher said, “Everyone is local when it comes to destroying an ecosystem.”

An animal activist from Austin, TX, and member of SCRPD, she said, “When they’re poisoning the Earth, there are no borders.”

Since the mass poisoning, all hell has broken loose and while Alberta circulated and mailed its fact sheet to locals, activists created two websites PromenadeCastleRockFacts.org and SaveTheCastleRockPrairieDogs.org., and two Facebook pages, Save the Castle Rock Mall Prairie Dogs and Promenade at Castle Rock Facts (which is separate from the prairie dog issues and focuses on information for locals about a referendum vote).

For weeks, venomous animosity ensued between those involved in the Castle Rock ordeal while the surviving prairie dogs lay doomed. National supporters, who couldn’t become physically involved, were frustrated, impatient and demanding of answers.

“This has been precious time wasted!” yelled Anita Rosinola from Westmont, NJ, who’s been prodigiously following the story via Save the Castle Rock Prairie Dog Facebook page, and most recently, she said, on her local TV news station in her state 1,700 miles away.

“With all this time that’s been wasted bickering about it, days and weeks have gone by, rescuers could’ve gotten the dogs out of there by now!”

The back story would take chapters to explain, but the digested version follows.

The key people in the debate are: a local group of animal advocates backed by many thousands of supporters online who include master wildlife rehabilitators, animal rescuers and folks belonging to other advocacy groups. That group is the Save the Castle Rock Mall Prairie Dogs group (to whom we will subsequently refer as SCRPD or activists), WildLands Defense (WLD) a wildlife advocacy legal team headed by Brian Ertz, Bold Visions Conservation (BVC) a new conservation group in New Mexico which began forming two years ago, Trent Botkins family owned animal re-location company Eco Solutions, Alberta Development Partners, LLC., Ron Purcella’s Animal & Pest Control Specialist Inc. who boasts “humane” extermination on his website, and most importantly, the prairie dog families both dead and alive — the very first Castle Rock residents.

Negotiations between Alberta Development, WildLands Defense and the activists had been going on since November 2014 when the activists got wind a mall was being planned over top the enormous stronghold of prairie dog families.

Alberta said their plan was to trap the dogs, “euthanize” them and feed them to a black-tailed ferret community or to raptors at a rehabilitation sanctuary. To be clear, they were not going to release them, but rather feed the dead dogs to the ferrets and raptors. (And euthanasia means to painlessly end the life of an incurably sick animal, including humans. To kill a healthy animal is correctly defined as, simply, killing.)

But on March 10, 2015, with the blessing of the Castle Rock town council, Alberta turned a vibrant chirping-with-life prairie dog stronghold, into a dead-silent wasteland.

While the poison was still wreaking havoc on surrounding wildlife including rabbits, snakes, ferrets and birds, WildLands Defense (WLD) filed litigation against Alberta to try to protect the wildlife.

Bold Visions Conservation group (BVC) was suggested to Ertz as an ally. BVC arbitrated between WLD and Alberta, and WLD agreed to drop their law suit in exchange for BVC’s promise of a 500-count prairie dog rescue including dogs from the Promenade site as well as the neighboring Castle Rock Church.

Ertz, and the activists, said that rescue did not happen as promised.

Botkin of Eco Solutions said he was paid $5,000 the day the agreement was signed, but nothing since of the $22,000 total he contracted with developers for both re-location projects. BVC associate director Joe Adair, said his group was paid $7,500 by Alberta for the arbitration, but any direct rescue efforts beyond that have not been confirmed.

Botkin said Alberta gave him two days to capture the dogs, which rang alarm bells with wildlife rehabilitators following the story due to the ludicrous time limit. One relocation expert said, “You can barely capture one family of grey squirrels in two days.” Botkin said the original estimated count of dogs on the Promenade site was only 100, so he said two days would’ve been enough time.

Botkin said in a phone interview that 130 dogs were collected and kept in a permitted residence in southern Colorado. (Those who cared for the dogs counted 73 in the troughs Trent had delivered.) After Botkin’s two-man team captured dogs for two days, using a foaming technique, they left, but requested an extension of three more days for other rescuers. Alberta granted the request, and Colorado re-locator Sandy Nervig, who is not connected with either BVC nor Ecosolutions, stepped in using Have-a-Heart traps to capture another fourteen with the voluntary help of Castle Rock volunteers including Beth Ann Senderak.

According to Botkin, Nervig was included in his relocation permit, but she cut ties with him shortly after the trapping, and acquired a new permit without his knowledge. Nervig responded and said, “Eco-solutions did not have a subcontract with me or provide me with any compensation for the work I did. Therefore I was a volunteer as were the other local volunteers who helped trap. Our only goal and motivation was to save the lives of the prairie dogs.”

Nervig has since sent an invoice, via WLD, to Botkin. Botkin said he has some funds available from Alberta, but not much. The promenade site was allocated only $9,000 of the total $22,000 contracted.The rescue attempt at Castle Rock church could not be confirmed.

During negotiations, BVC said they had a “donor” willing to take the dogs in New Mexico, which was suggested to be one of the ranch estates owned by Ted Turner, the movie mogul and ranch owner. Emails to Mr. Turner’s associates were not returned and his involvement could not be confirmed. BVC said the relocation site “fell through.” And according to a wildlife rehabilitator in New Mexico, a state-to-state relocation had never been done.

In the meantime, Alberta offered a settlement of mitigation. Which, in an extremely basic explanation, means a developer can kill wildlife where they want to build, but protect it in another place which is usually somewhere wildlife doesn’t need protection. WLD said the settlement was unsatisfactory and rejected it calling it “blood money” and saying the money offered wouldn’t have bought nearly enough land for the dogs.

Joe Adair, associate director of BVC, disagreed with WLD’s decision, but said, “This group of Castle Rock activists is very special. Their actions were nothing short of amazing. They didn’t have a lot of experience, and made a few mistakes, but they were activism superstars.”

WLD credits BVC with a successful arbitration, but little else. Ertz said, “BVC took the money and ran, and we’re stuck with the tab.”

BVC, the 2-year old group, has one other relocation effort under it’s belt in Clovis, New Mexico which Adair called a “horror story,” and he fears Castle Rock may end just as badly.

At this point in the negotiations, the few rescued dogs did not have a home and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the agency that wields supreme power over the state’s wildlife, stepped in.

According to SCRPD, On April 6, 2015, CPW sent a text to the permitted-residents who were caring for the dogs, and said they wanted to come out and do a welfare check on them. Once there, escorted by police officers, CPW removed the dogs to await a fate no one knew at the time. The resident was falsely accused of not having a permit, which was broadcast on a television news story, however she later received apologies from the news channel.

Many thought the 87 pups who had been through so much already were doomed.

The thousands watching the event unfold online went ballistic, and picked up their phones. CPW was immediately inundated with desperate pleas to spare the dogs’ lives.

Then the story hit the evening news.

Fox news aired photos of CPW seizing the dogs, interviewed lead activist Deanna Meyer, and shortly after, CPW granted a permit to release the rescued dogs onto her land — land that Meyer said she had offered as a relocation site from the very start of negotiations. Contrary to some reports, she said her land was “never rejected but rather never considered.” The land, already under a conservation easement, is a wildlife haven including a 60-acre meadow almost perfect for the rescued prairie dogs. According to CPW statements, the land is slightly higher in the dogs’ regularly inhabited elevation which is why CPW said the land wasn’t considered in the first place.

At what CPW called an “11th-hour relocation site,” the handful of rescued dogs got a new home. On April 15, prairie dog expert Nervig and local volunteers dug starter-dens and released the pups. The video of that release can be seen on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHKm3I_CYno&feature=share. In the video, the pups are calmly exploring their new digs, and one prairie dog can be seen almost literally jumping for joy.The hearts of supporters jumped for joy as well, and a huge sigh of relief was felt.

However, the happiness was momentary since the clock is still critically ticking for the 300 or so left on the site, and those at the Castle Rock Church whose fate is still unknown.

At present, construction on the site has halted because of signatures gathered for a referendum by a small hardy group of Castle Rock locals, belonging to the Save the Castle Rock Prairie Dog group, with the legal backing of WLD. Activists say that referendum is intended to empower locals when it comes to their town’s development decisions.

Petitioner Stacey Rogers said, “The purpose of the petition is to allow Castle Rock citizens to vote on zoning change. Alberta claims that the amendment makes the development in that area less dense, but the research indicates otherwise.”

While the rescue credit is being debated, it’s immaterial for many, since the bottom line is, 300 or more dogs are in harm’s way and can possibly be saved. The Save the Castle Rock Prairie Dog group are the ones directly working on the relocation now, and their supporters’ motives are altruistic.

According to activists, negotiations are quietly taking place again between Alberta and local rescuers, and activists are suggesting folks kindly ask CPW and Alberta to grant life and liberty to rest of the pups by allowing them to be re-located.

Meyer said CPW allows 10 to 15 relocated prairie dogs per acre. That’s 900 dogs, and under that stipulation, Meyer’s land is more than enough room to accommodate the 300 or so pups left stranded on Alberta’s property now. The bill for that project however is still mounting.

Folks observing from a distance said Alberta is building on a graveyard, and they were naive not to expect an emotional thunderstorm. Supporters said Alberta threw the first punch with the poisoning, and now activists are punching back while the world is watching.

The developer does have the legal right to poison again at any time, but all those interviewed said, “This doesn’t have to happen!”

 

The Plight of Colorado’s Underdogs

Why is Castle Rock attracting, and deserving, of national attention? Animals all over the globe are vanishing at a devastating rate, and developers are killing prairie dogs all over the west.

The answer is simple: advocates see Castle Rock as a microcosm of what development is doing to the whole world.

“This is Everywhere, USA,” said Brian Ertz of WildLands Defense.

“What developers are doing is a cancer of box stores metastasizing all over small town America,” he said.

Heather Glenn, a Washington State member of SCRPD and proud adopted mother of a pet prairie dog, said it’s nothing new and that’s precisely why it’s so heartbreaking.

“The cries of the people fighting against this atrocity, much like the cries of the animals dying in terror and agony, were summarily dismissed by all parties in positions of power as well as by their new ‘neighbors’ who are dead-set on ramming a glorified strip mall down their throats! The lifeless dirt of the killing grounds in Castle Rock is a reflection of the emptiness in the hearts of those who did this,” she said.

In the west, prairie dogs have almost no right to live at all. They have been stripped of all dignity by every facet of government due to the influence cattle ranching industries, farmers, and oil and gas companies have over law making. And Colorado especially shows no pity on the humble creatures. That’s one fact that’s universally agreed upon by all advocacy groups.

If humans eradicate these keystone species, they will also thereby exterminate the animals who rely on them for food: the endangered black-footed ferret, some species of fox, eagles, badgers and hawks. And potentially the herbivores prairie dogs help feed: bison, pronghorn and mule deer.

The problem for the defenseless animal is essentially their name. Firstly, phobias of rodents are nothing new though the myths are refuted time and time again. Secondly, the species of prairie dogs in Colorado are legally deemed “pests” and land owners are permitted to kill them as they please. As many devoted prairie dogs proponents there are, there are also as many who hate them. Those folks are mostly cattle slaughtering ranchers and others who reap financial gain off the land that the animals inhabited first, or those who’ve never met a prairie dog.

Persecuted as well are the prairie dogs’ cousins: ground squirrels, ground hogs, gophers, beaver and even meerkats (Africa’s prairie dogs who are the lovable stars on Animal Planet’s ‘Meerkat Manor.’)

“Colorado Parks and Wildlife regulations make successful prairie dog re-locations difficult and rare,” said Alberta in their mailer to Castle Rock residents. “Difficult, but not impossible, said Botkin, who’s been relocating for many years in New Mexico where the laws make it much easier to do so. “To get CPW to issue a relocation permit, a relocation site must be secured first,” he said. “Then the decision is put to the county commissioners in the county of the intended relocation site.”

To understand how the state of Colorado feels about prairie dogs, one must only read the title of the Senate Bill 99-111. “Concerning a prohibition against the release of destructive rodent pests into a county without the prior approval of the board of county commissioners of the county.”

Destructive rodent pests? Quite a different perspective than the affectionate chubby pups folks are describing here.

That bill, Botkin said, “Means that the Colorado legislature transferred the role of managing the conservation of a single species to county commissioners, who in general have no training in wildlife conservation. What county commissioners do have, however, is a very strong link to the agricultural constituency of their county, often being personally affiliated with the farm and ranch industry, an industry that is traditionally hostile to prairie dogs.”

Presently, the laws are a different story in neighboring Utah. The Utah prairie dog, an almost indistinguishably different species from the black-tailed dog in Colorado, has been reported to halt construction just by peeking his head out of his den. Of the five species of prairie dogs, two are protected under the Endangered Species Act, the Mexican prairie dog and the Utah prairie dog. Unfortunately though, authorities are trying to change those laws as we speak.

But just because an animal isn’t on the endangered list, does he deserve to die?

Development may be the cancer, but wildlife agencies can be the death sentence said advocates.

Animal rehabilitator with the Prairie Dog Pals group in New Mexico, Yvonne Boudreaux, said she has no love for wildlife agencies in the west. “Your tax dollars are funding these mindless thugs to kill everything in their path unless it’s a cow. If you have four legs and fur, and are NOT a cow, it is their policy to kill you.”

As an observer, who said she’s grateful for not being involved in the Castle Rock mess, said, “This is the biggest cock-up I’ve ever seen.

“The developers should have considered the (intense) emotions involved with destroying the largest prairie dog colony left, and CPW could have helped, but rather sat on their hands and let a division between the groups involved take place.”

CPW maintained in a TV interview that the prairie dog habitat in Colorado is alive and well, however do the math folks. If the black-footed ferret, who’s only food source is prairie dog prey, IS endangered, take a wild guess as to who’s next to go on that endangered list.

The unfounded, yet common, defense for killing these animals is from those who make a living off the cattle slaughtered for a meat-eating nation. Cattle ranchers claim cows and horses have broken their legs from stepping on a den. Again, animals are adept at escaping danger, and according to the National Wildlife Federation, and thousands of wildlife experts, “there has never been a documented case of cattle or horses breaking legs from prairie dog holes.” Even a Department of Natural Resources representative in Maryland who grew up on “horse country in Maryland” claimed horses do break legs, but when asked if she could prove that, she said, “Well, that’s what I’ve heard.”

Advocates say it’s quite simply a myth perpetrated by a John Wayne movie. As for the dogs hogging the grass, prairie dogs prefer short grass that’s been nibbled down by other herbivores, and biologists believe the grass grows richer in nutrients where the dogs have aerated the land with their tunnels.

Another misconception about prairie dogs concerns the plague of the 14th century. Prairie dogs don’t carry it, fleas do, and according to the World Health Organization, a whopping average of SEVEN people get plague in the United States. The treatment is simple — antibiotics. Incidentally, humans carry and transmit the plague of the 21st century, HIV the virus that causes AIDS. Enough said.

Boudreaux said prairie dogs have a dry bite, and zoonotic diseases like rabies are transferred through blood and saliva. She said when folks ask if she’s afraid of getting bitten, she responds, “After handling over 24,000 prairie dogs in my life, the only thing I’ve been infected with from them is a low tolerance for people who harm them.”

And she’s not alone. Navajo Native American Indians, who’ve had their share of sand kicked in their face, reportedly revere prairie dogs. “If you destroy the prairie dog, there will be no more rain,” a legend states. According to scientists, the Navajo knew what they were talking about. When 98% of the dogs were eradicated the rains did disappear. No joke. The aeration pups create with their den and tunnel making actually clear the lungs of the soil, and help conduct water back into the air.

To label prairie dogs as pests is beyond ludicrous to those US citizens lucky enough to live in the dozen states that allow prairie dogs as a part of the family.

Folks like Glenn, who have intimate connections to the unquestionably cute animals, say the love she receives from the extremely affectionate pup is no different from that of a canine dog.

“If you don’t like prairie dogs, then it’s only because you have never met one,” she said, along with thousands of folks who know them personally.

“My prairie dog Jack was one of those rare creatures you’re lucky to encounter once or twice in a lifetime,” she said. “His joy and enthusiasm for life was unparalleled. His loyalty and devotion put the best canine to shame.”

“With his bright, shiny eyes and gleefully wiggling tail, even on my darkest days, Jack was always able to make me smile through my tears,” she beamed. “He showed me that there is still magic and wonder in the world.”

Through inconsolable tears of Jack’s passing two months ago, she said, “I still listen for the clickity-click of those little paws and the joyful jump-yips that greeted me every day for so many years. Now where Jack used to be is only an emptiness so vast that it’s all I can do to just remind myself to breathe.

The horror inflicted on the Castle Rock animals and at countless similar sites around our ‘great’ nation,” she said, “is unconscionable.”

She and others ask, does it really all come down to a small patch of government deciding on who deserves to die, and who doesn’t?

Yes, it does.

“How would you like it if it were you?” yelled Anita Rosilina, the animal rescuer and member of SCRPD from New Jersey. Her voice shaking with rage, she shouted to developers, Castle Rock council members, CPW and the entire state of Colorado, “What makes an animal less important than you?”

Whether or not one would cuddle a prairie dog, folks are asking, what is the value of life compared to the value of a strip mall?

Julie Gallagher, the activist from Texas, asks, how many animals’ lives, and limited ecosystems, are we willing to trade for another set of the same old stores? Were the heartbreaking cries of these animals ignored by a corporation and a town council whose ears aren’t sensitive enough to hear them?

“Until a human being makes a heart connection with a wild animal – they will always fear what they don’t understand,” she said. “And what one fears, one destroys.”

And as Steve Irwin, the famed animal ambassador of another demonized species, the crocodile, said, “People will save what they love.”

In hundreds of posts, emails, comments, and dozens of interviews, supporters are ripping their hair out and emphatically asking the same question of Alberta Development, “If there are people willing to rescue and relocate these animals, why won’t you let them?”

Build the damn mall, they said, just let rescuers get the dogs out first.

If Alberta says yes, then it’s up to CPW. Trent Boktin, the veteran re-locator, said, “The money’s there, the relocation sites are there, the public will is there, the muscle on the ground is there. It all comes down to getting approval from CPW and the board of county commissioners.”

So what’s the plan? WildLands Defense along with other prairie dog advocacy groups are devoted to changing laws to let the dogs simply live. And according to SCRPD, negotiations are still quietly going on between developers and local animal rescuers to halt another disaster. In essence, a relocation site must be secured for CPW to grant a permit, and the law already in place makes this a tricky situation.

And meanwhile back at the Meyer ranch, the 87 prairie dogs who survived the capture, relocation, and living in troughs for weeks, are doing just fine. They’re eating, playing, snuggling down in their new human-made dens, and they seem deliriously happy.

To those who love animals, this has been called a “9/11 of wildlife.” And the distress whistles of the terrified prairie dogs dying underground, are no less painful to them then the bone-chilling whistles heard from firefighters trapped under mounds of rubble at ground zero.

Some may think that extreme, but in the hearts of folks who’ve been honored by these animals’ trust, it is truly just as heartbreaking. Animals will often fight to the death to protect their own, and to these empathic folks, ALL animals are their own kind.

“Animals keep the planet in balance,” Gallagher said, “The only pests on the planet are humans!”

This has been another terrorist attack on wildlife, said advocates, and they have had ENOUGH!

The motives of developers, the town council and the exterminators for killing the prairie dogs is essentially money. For the countless people mourning the lives lost, and those desperately trying to save the rest, it’s not about a mall, or politics, or money — it’s about Love.

Suzanne Grover is a freelance journalist and can be reached at groverartwork@gmail.com. All copyrights belong to Ms. Grover. This article may be shared through email and Facebook, but news organizations must email Ms. Grover directly for a reprint permission agreement.

Is Alberta Development Planning Another Assault on Prairie Dogs?

We in Deep Green Resistance have received reports from the Prairie Dog Liberation Front of Castle Rock that Alberta Development, perpetrators of the Promenade Mall in Castle Rock, are planning the next phase of their extermination of the giant prairie dog colony on the site of the construction.

Previously, Alberta resorted to simply ignoring the existence of the prairie dogs, and either buried them under tons of rock and soil, crushed them under heavy machinery, and/or bulldozed them and their burrows out of existence.

Recent rumors, however, suggest Alberta may be turning to more ‘technical’ final solutions to their local prairie dog problem – Aluminum Phosphide Fumigants. Here’s a description of this chemical:

Trade names include Phostoxin, Fumitoxin, PH3, and Weevil-cide, and most brands are available as both a pellet and a tablet. Aluminum phosphide reacts with atmospheric moisture to produce phosphine gas. Phosphine gas is highly toxic to insects, burrowing pests, humans, and other forms of animal life. It may also ignite spontaneously in air at concentrations above 1.8% v/v.

Prior to treatment, the applicator must prepare a fumigation management plan (FMP) for each fumigation. See the applicator’s manual for a checklist of what must be included in each fumigation management plan. An FMP sample for burrowing rodents is also available at the Colorado Department of Agriculture website.

Here’s how Aluminum Phosphide works. From The National Center for Biotechnology Information (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3162709/), symptoms include:

in moderate to severe ingestional poisoning, the signs and symptoms of the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous systems appear initially and, later on, features of hepatic and renal failure and disseminated intravascular coagulation may also occur

Apparently, victims of aluminum phosphide poisoning bleed out, and not necessarily quickly. It’s a gruesome fate, one that we do not wish on any living thing.

So, why are Alberta operatives resorting to this cruelty? Simply, the prairie dogs are in the way. Animal rights and ecological justice activists have pleaded with Alberta and their henchman Peter Cudlip to at least halt development on the mall long enough to allow for relocation of the prairie dogs, to save as many of these creatures as possible. All requests have been not only denied, but summarily ignored.

It’s just easier to eliminate the colony and all its residents now. Not only does quick extermination keep construction on track, it is suggested this tactic would obviate a raptor survey planned for the site next week. Hey, no prairie dogs, less chance we’ll see raptors, since the dogs are a food source for them. No raptors, no pesky federal environmental regulations to be bothered with. Problem solved! Now that’s Progress!

Weather considerations have kept any potential poisoning operations on hold. However, Monday (March 9) the poisoning window opens, and we may see crews out spreading aluminum phosphide among the prairie dog burrows.

If you care about the fate of the prairie dogs and the ecology of the Castle Rock area, please consider showing up, to voice your displeasure at this most inhumane destruction. Here’s more information, and some other ways you can help, from wildlandsdefense.org:

Mass Poisoning May Occur On Prairie Dog Colony

P Dog in the SnowWe received information yesterday that Alberta Development LLC in partnership with either Animal and Pest Control or Smith Environmental will be exterminating this colony of prairie dogs through the use of Aluminum Phosphide, a nasty chemical that causes a slow and agonizing death.

This poison causes the animals to bleed out internally and it takes 72 hours for them to die an excruciating death. Yes, Alberta has sunk down to this level.

This could likely happen either Monday or Tuesday. We have to do what it takes to stop this atrocity and we need each and every one of you to take the time and the necessary steps to help us stop the torturous murder of thousands of animals.

Monitor the Site

Keep monitoring the site. Yesterday, I saw a burrowing owl about 3 miles away at a different prairie dog colony. There are burrowing owls out there. Please watch for them. Also watch for any suspicious activity at the site.

Please work out a schedule that will allow you to get onto the site in case of an emergency protest for this coming week

Thank you all for your time and I hope we can stop this atrocity.

For the Prairie Dogs!
Deanna Meyer, Wildlands defense
deanna@wildlandsdefense.org
720-722-1691