It is not only challenging to find a suitable release site to which prairie dogs can be taken, the permitting and public relations hurtles can be daunting. The biologists with Roe Ecological Services have conducted numerous, successful black-tailed and Gunnison’s prairie dog relocations and are available to help you navigate the process. Specifically we can:
- Identify whether a suitable release site exists to which the prairie dogs can be taken;
- Secure the necessary permits/permission and ensuring compliance with all relevant regulations and laws;
- Set up the release site (e.g., installing belowground nest boxes if there is no preexisting burrow system);
- Trap the prairie dogs and transporting them to the release site;
- Provide food and water to the newly released prairie dogs until they can become acclimated to the new site; and
- Provideany desired/necessary monitoring efforts, if desired, to determine long-term success of the relocation process.
At Roe Ecological Services, we believe the primary purpose of live relocations of prairie dogs should be to conserve, and/or enhance, the ecological function of the population of animals in need of relocation to maximize their value as a “keystone species.” As such, we take our time to assess and carefully plan our relocations to ensure a high chance of survival, longevity, and will only relocate the prairie dogs if they will be a benefit – not a detriment – to other species of wildlife, the overall habitat, and to adjacent property owners.
Click HERE for just one example of a successful relocation by Roe Ecological Services.
Scientific Journal Articles:
- Roe, K.A. and C.M. Roe. 2003. Habitat selection guidelines for black-tailed prairie dog relocations. Wildlife Society Bulletin 31(4): 1246-1253. Click HERE to download a copy of the article.
- Roe, K.A. and C.M. Roe. 2004. A relocation technique for black-tailed prairie dogs. Western North American Naturalist 64(4): 445-453. Click HERE to download a copy of the article.
Examples of State and Local Laws/Regulations
– State of Colorado
To lawfully relocate prairie dogs from one property to another in the state of Colorado, one must obtain a permit from the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife (CPW), which considers habitat suitability and long-term management of both the property and the prairie dog population. Even if the receiving site habitat is favorable, and the relocation will be ecologically beneficial, the CPW may deny the permit based on real or perceived conflicts (e.g., opposition from the local community or landowners adjacent to the proposed release site). Further, 35-7-203 C.R.S. (a/k/a Senate Bill 99-111) prohibits the release of prairie dogs in a different county from where they were captured unless the County Commissioners in the receiving county pass a resolution approving the release. Obtaining this approval is difficult, if not impossible. Therefore, typically the release site must be in the same county as the trap site.
- CPW Relocation Permits & Regulations website
- Wild-to-Wild Relocation Permit Application
- 30-day Report
- Special Conditions
– City of Boulder, Colorado
The City of Boulder (Boulder) has a “Wildlife Protection Ordinance” (Chapter 6-1 B.R.C 1981, Ordinance No. 7321 (2005)), which covers activities pertaining to prairie dog management within the city’s jurisdictional boundaries. Two sections are relevant to the relocation of prairie dogs. First, Section 6-1-12 prohibits a person from damaging a prairie dog burrow unless: (1) the burrow is uninhabited; (2) a relocation was attempted within the past 12 months; (3) it was approved by the city manager; or (4) the burrow is on the property of a single family residence. Second, pursuant to Section 6-1-37, assuming that the project is permitted by the CPW, the landowner/Roe Ecological Services must simply notify Boulder at least 20 days before the initiation of the physical relocation. No permit is required from Boulder for a live relocation.
- City of Boulder prairie dog information page
- Boulder Municipal Code, Title 6, Chapter 1, Section 12
- Boulder Municipal Code, Title 6, Chapter 1, Section 37
– City of Longmont, Colorado
The City of Longmont Land Development Code Section 15.05.030.G.9. requires the prairie dogs on a site slated for development be relocated. Only after a good faith effort to identify a suitable relocation site has been made (and a suitable relocation site was not found), can a developer then eradicate the prairie dogs. Under the Code, the developer is expected to consult with the city about alternatives (e.g., avoidance, passive relocation, and trap and donation to a raptor rehabilitation or black-footed ferret recovery program) before the use of in-burrow fumigants or poison baits are authorized by the City of Longmont.
– City of Thornton, Colorado
The City of Thornton Municipal Code Sections 6-21(d) and 18-48(c)) requires land developers to document their good faith effort to relocate prairie dogs from the land slated for development before a development permit will be issued by the City.