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January 1, 2014

Conservation, Animal Welfare Groups to Forest Service: Reject Prairie Dog Poisonings on Thunder Basin

Thousands of Prairie Dogs and Associated Wildlife In Danger of Being Poisoned

Conservation and animal welfare organizations have joined forces to submit written comments urging the U.S. Forest Service to consider an alternative plan to poison prairie dog colonies on Wyoming’s Thunder Basin National Grassland within ¼ mile of private or state land.

The Humane Society of the United States, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife, WildEarth Guardians and others are leaders in this initiative that would save an estimated 16,000 prairie dogs.

In 2009, after years of planning and public input, officials set aside 85,000 acres in the Thunder Basin National Grassland as an area where prairie dogs would be protected from poisons and shooting. Today, this area contains the best prairie dog habitat on any National Grassland in America, but the U.S. Forest Service’s proposed plan would shrink this protected area by 22,000 acres.

Lindsey Sterling Krank, director of the Prairie Dog Coalition of The HSUS stated, “The Forest Service has to find a non-lethal and humane way to manage prairie dogs on Thunder Basin rather than spending taxpayer dollars on poison. The public and our nation’s wildlife deserve better.” 

The proposed use of anticoagulant poisons on federal lands to kill prairie dogs will also impact wildlife that consume  poisoned prairie dogs, including hawks, eagles, badgers and foxes. Death from such poisons is often a slow, painful process. Furthermore, moving forward with poisoning prairie dogs on Thunder Basin will result in another postponement of the reintroduction of the endangered black-footed ferret to one of America’s best remaining habitats for the species.

Humane, non-lethal ways to manage prairie dogs along Thunder Basin’s boundary include building vegetative barriers to deter prairie dogs from expanding onto neighboring lands, and when necessary, relocating prairie dog colonies from boundary areas to protected areas far from private lands. Other alternatives may be available to the Forest Service, including incentive packages for neighboring landowners.

Taylor Jones, endangered species advocate for WildEarth Guardians said, “These dangerous poisons shouldn’t be used anywhere, much less in one of our last best grasslands.” 

Citizens are encouraged to send their comments to the U.S. Forest Service by January 3. Please see here for a link to public comments that can be submitted to the U.S. Forest Service. They can also be emailed to: comments-rm-mbr-douglas-thunder-basin@fs.fed.us or mailed to the U.S. Forest Service Douglas Ranger District at 2250 E. Richards St. Douglas, Wyoming 82633.

 

Media Contact: Naseem Amini, 301-548-7793, namini@humanesociety.org

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