Prairie dogs win major victory in court


    Denver based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of the Utah Prairie Dog after residents prove they can’t regulate themselves in coexisting laws – PB/TK

    Prairie dogs win major victory in court – Charlie Wood  March 31 2017

    The Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of protecting the threatened Utah prairie dog, strengthening precedent that the federal government has the authority to override state law regarding the regulation of endangered species. Environmentalists cheered the decision, which was met with frustration by landowners who struggle to coexist with a pest sheltered by law.

    A state district court ruled differently in 2014, giving Utah the right to manage the critters itself. The state maintained many protections, but expanded the area wildlife officials could remove prairie dogs, and the circumstances under which residents could kill the unwanted underground residents.

    The determination had swift consequences, with residents killing many as 3,500 prairie dogs on private land in 2015 and 2016. Requests for removal also spiked almost 30 percent in 2015 before returning to normal levels in 2016, Adam Kavalunas, the state’s prairie dog recovery biologist, told the Associated Press.

    Landowners supported the change. “We had dealt with the federal government for 40 years and had made zero progress and spent millions of dollars,” said Bruce Hughes, a tax accountant who told the AP that he had been unable to develop his land because it hosted 85 prairie dogs. “With two years of state control, we have basically solved our problem.”

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