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Prairie dogs escape predatory status
By KATHLEEN MILLER
Associated Press writer

CHEYENNE -- Prairie dogs dug their way out of being classified as predatory animals by the House Agriculture Committee Thursday.

The committee approved a measure that would make it a crime to dump prairie dogs onto property without the consent of the landowner, but stripped the bill of language that would reclassify the prairie dog as a "predatory animal."

"Believe it or not, this was the number one issue when I was running for office," said Rep. Matt Teeters, R-Lingle, who sponsored the legislation.

Rep. Amy Edmonds, R-Cheyenne, agreed with Teeters. "In my district, they are just out of control," Edmonds said. "We're losing the battle."

Teeters said he wanted prairie dogs to join coyotes, raccoons, skunks and stray cats in the predatory animal classification to take them out of any "management scheme." Prairie dogs currently are classified as pests by the state.

Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director John Etchepare said the state agriculture board was not in favor of the reclassification. "It is the feeling of the board that this could raise a red flag and hasten the speed with which efforts are made to get the prairie dog listed" as endangered or threatened species, he said.

Sierra Club lobbyist Adam Rissien agreed. He said if the prairie dog was classified as a predatory animal, it would mean the state would no longer be able to say it was managing the species through regulatory mechanisms. Rissien said his organization would seize the opportunity to gain endangered species status for prairie dogs.

"It would help us petition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife for listing the species under the Endangered Species Act," Rissien said.

Rissien's testimony led Teeters and the committee to strike the portions of the bill that would reclassify the prairie dog as predatory. "What Mr. Rissien said raised the hackles on the back of my neck," Teeters said.

The committee voted 8-1 to pass the bill -- without the language that would have classified prairie dogs as predators, but including language that would make it a misdemeanor to relocate prairie dogs into or within Wyoming without the consent of the landowner and all adjoining landowners within one mile of the relocation site.

The bill now moves to the House floor for consideration.

Prairie dogs face still face another threat in Wyoming: the annual "There Goes the Neighborhood" prairie dog killing contest on public lands around Medicine Bow in Carbon County.
 

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Maybe I Can Help , Clear the Muddy Waters...

Living in WY near Cheyenne, it has been known to happen that people for some Unknown reason capture & relocate the critters. Not a real big problem that I am aware of, but then again the ones doin so don't usually go around talking about it in public. It happens more often to the south of WY in CO. Down there they have divided groups on both sides of the issue, and Capture & Transplanting does happen. Driving into Ft Collins fm I-25,it is very common to see Pd's Towns along side the Hiway surronded by housing & shopping Malls. Also in Denver on I-25 in the interchanges you can see the Pd mounds.There seems to be a strange Love Affair for the Treehuggers & other" Save Everthing" groups. When the Plague gets into them and people also catch it, maybe they will Wake Up. BIG Maybe . I still Shudder when in the Varmint Mags I see the guys holding them up next to the Yardage signs with a big smile , With Bare Hands. I have been know to Red Mist a few Pd's, and if you take a close look around that mound you just blew the critter off, there all kinds of little flying bugs and crawlers , not a place I won't to sit down & rest or touch anything there about. My 2¢. Russ.
 

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The way I read it....Right now prairie dogs are "managed" as pests. If they would have got classified as predators then they wouldn't fall under any state management program. If not under state management, the bunny-huggers would have a chance to take over management (get them listed).

What we really need is a bunny-hugger management program.
 
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