By Wildlands Defense
In Colorado, a house bill has been introduced to the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee entitled “A bill for an act concerning the authorization process for the release of destructive rodent pests into a county.” If passed, this bill will make it increasingly difficult to save prairie dogs and the land and wildlife they maintain. The purpose of this bill is to make relocations more difficult than they already are since more people are showing concern and love for this keystone species which is making developers and ranchers nervous. This bill will require the approval of county commissioners and at least two additional entities prior to ANY proposed relocation throughout the state within counties. These restrictions are already required between counties and have effectively limited the conservation of wildlife communities since commissioners rarely approve prairie dog relocations.
It is important to understand that adding further restrictions to the preservation of wildlife will push a myriad of species towards extinction, especially during this time when land and living communities are being destroyed at alarming rates as a result of rampant development. This bill is an insult to wildlife in Colorado. Currently, it is already extremely difficult to relocate prairie dogs and only 18 relocations have occurred throughout the entire state of Colorado since 2012 which saved approximately 2800 prairie dogs. Contrast this number with the hundreds of thousands that have been poisoned within that same time period. Presently, when trying to save these fragmented colonies, advocates have to go through permitting with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which takes at least 30 days, and they also have to find land to move prairie dogs to which can take up to several years since government agencies very rarely agree to preserve prairies on public lands. Development and ranching are always given priority over wildlife preservation.
Join Us on Monday, March 21st, at the Denver Capitol at 1:30pm and Help Us Oppose This Bill!
WildLands Defense has been working with a group of third graders at the Downtown Denver Expeditionary School and they have decided to come to this meeting and speak for the prairie dogs! These intuitive students are appalled to hear that our legislators want to extinguish this keystone species from the prairies and are determined to stand up against this bill and voice their opposition. This third grade class has watched our political process at work during the last 2 months as legislators have postponed this hearing two different times. The first time was on February 8th, when they were notified 2 hours prior to the hearing. These students were all dressed up and ready to speak and were very disappointed to find out that all their preparation was thwarted by Kevin Priola, the individual that introduced the bill, because he missed his plane after watching the Superbowl in California. These students are learning a sad lesson that our legislators are more determined to silence their strong voices than listen to their concerns. We believe these postponements are happening to decrease the opposition, but let’s prove them wrong and show up in numbers!
WildLands Defense is asking all of our supporters in Colorado to come join these third grade allies and march with them to the capitol on Monday. We will be meeting outside their school building, located at 1860 Lincoln Street around noon, and we will begin the march at 12:30. Please help support these young activists in taking the first strong step to insist that prairie dogs and wildlife are a part of their future.
Once we get to this meeting, we hope that many of you will be willing to speak and ask the committee to vote against this bill. We will be given 3 minutes each to voice our concerns. This bill, so far, is going to be heard after another bill regarding oil and gas, so plan on spending the afternoon with us. We need to show up by 1:30 in case they switch the order.
This session will start at 1:30, Monday March 21st, at the capitol, 200 E. Colfax Avenue, in the legislative building. Your voice can help us stop the destruction of this keystone species on the prairies.
Thank you for your ongoing support of WildLands and Wildlife.
For the Prairies!
Natalie Ertz, Executive Director
Brian Ertz, Board President
Katie Fite, Board Secretary
Deanna Meyer, Board Director
Linda Van Nostrand, Board Director
Dave Hayes, Board Director