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February 15, 2011

Animal Advocates Ask South Dakota Lawmakers to Maintain the Limited Protection of Prairie Dogs on Public Lands

Citizens from across South Dakota participating in Humane Lobby Day today met with lawmakers at the capitol, and urged them to oppose HB 1047, which would remove protections for prairie dogs on public lands. The Humane Society of the United States sponsored Humane Lobby Day.

“South Dakotans wanted to stand up and say ‘no’ to this extreme bill and we welcomed the help of citizen lobbyists today,” said Darci Adams, The HSUS’ South Dakota state director. “HB 1047 would strip authority from Game, Fish and Parks to make wildlife management decisions regarding prairie dogs.”

Prairie dogs are a keystone species on which dozens of other animals depend for food or shelter. In South Dakota, they can be shot year-round on private land. On public lands, prairie dogs can be shot without limits or a license at any time, except when they are pregnant or rearing pups from March 1 to June 14, at which time they are protected. The current 3.5-month shooting moratorium also allows wildlife watchers and tourists to enjoy prairie dogs in their natural setting, free from the hunt.

At Lobby Day Tuesday, animal advocates also discussed their concern with lawmakers that South Dakota does not have a felony-level penalty on the books for egregious acts of cruelty against pets, and reiterated the strong link between animal cruelty and human violence. In South Dakota, destroying a $1,000 portrait of another person’s dog is a Class 4 felony, but maliciously stabbing, torturing and killing that person’s actual dog is only a misdemeanor. Citizens urged legislators to focus on this issue during the next legislative session.

In 2010, state legislatures across the country passed 97 new laws for animals. The HSUS works with animal advocates and state legislators to enact laws protecting animals from cruelty, combating animal fighting, halting wildlife abuse and more.

Humane Lobby Day started with a morning reception in the Capitol President’s and Speaker’s lobbies and concluded with animal advocates watching the House and Senate in action from the observation gallery.

   
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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

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