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Bolder County looks for prairie dog solution


March 30, 2016

Courtesy Photo

Bolder County will soon be introducing coyotes to combat the rampant growth of prairie dog colonies in the Gunbarrel area.

After a recent special meeting, Bolder County officials now believe they have found a solution to the growing invasive population of prairie dogs.

Harvey Danger, an ecologist who specializes in suburban rodent populations, presented both the Bolder Parks and Weed Department and county officials with a proposal that could curb the encroachment of two rival prairie dog colonies.

The proposal begins with the introduction of several packs of wild coyotes that will be brought in from Estes Park. Each of the three packs will consist of anywhere between 25-30 coyotes.

This program will will be dubbed Humans Offering Wildlife Liberation (HOWL).

“The fact that the coyotes have lived in the area means that they will become acclimated to the new environment quickly,” Danger said. “They won’t have to cope with changes like an altitude difference. They’ll be more effective as predators at a faster pace than coyotes brought in from Mexico or China.”

The 46-acre conservation site is slated to preserve prairie dog habitat, but Parks and Weed Spokeswoman Shirley Facetious said that their expansion is becoming a problem.

“Of course the Wooden Brothers and Weisenheimer Rocks colonies are welcome at the site — and our purpose is to preserve their natural habitat,” Facetious said. “But it’s come to the point that we have to put their expansion in check. The prairie dogs have really forced our hand at this point, and we see no other solution.”

The roughly 100 new coyotes will join a growing number of raptor birds, mostly falcons, that will help keep the prairie dogs in check.

HOWL joins an effort from a separate group of residents that thinks large venomous snakes would be more effective. Their biggest complaint is damage to yards in the area.

Without prior city or county approval, locals have been purchasing full-grown rattlesnakes to release in the area near the elementary school.

“I’d rather have a nice clean lawn and good open space that’s vermin-free,” a local resident who wished to remain anonymous said. “I really don’t mind the snakes or the coyotes. Whatever it takes to get those fat rats out.”

Though coyotes will be the official beginning of handling the problem, Parks and Weed has a more long-term solution.

With the veritable harvest in front of the coyotes, their population is expected to swell.

Once that point is reached, the plan is to relocate gray wolves from Wyoming in order to keep the coyote numbers down.

Kyle Perkins, who has self-published four books about wolves and printed thousands of T-shirts with depictions of the animal, said that this solution will benefit the ecosystem.

“This will really bring it full-circle,” Perkins said. “When the wolves realize they have the coyote population under control, they’ll migrate to other feeding grounds. I really don’t think any wild animal stays in an area where food is hard to find. It’s common sense.”

Officials said that they intend to begin the program later this spring and continue throughout the summer.

Anyone enjoying the outdoors in the area should remember to be cautious and respect the coyotes while they fulfill their obligations.


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