Future of Boulder prairie dog colony uncertain

Prairie dog in Boulder

BOULDER, Colo. — The clock is ticking for a colony of prairie dogs in Boulder. They are losing their home and animal rights activists are scrambling to find them a new one.

A colony of about 50 prairie dogs has been living on close to 10 acres where the old Colorado National Guard Armory is in north Boulder. Developers recently purchased the land and plan to break ground on a new housing development in the fall.

The prairie dogs will have to be removed from the site before development can begin.

“Everybody sees them in the Front Range kind of everywhere. You see them on medians, you see them next to parks. You think, ‘Oh, my gosh we have so many’ but it’s actually kind of these are some of the only places left. They’ve actually declined by 98 percent,” said Lindsay Sterling Krank, director of the Prairie Dog Coalition of the Humane Society of the U.S.

Krank and other animal rights activists are urging Boulder to allow the prairie dogs to be relocated onto another plot of public land suited for the animals.

At a city council meeting on Tuesday, dozens of residents spoke in favor of an option to move the prairie dogs to the Southern Grasslands Habitat Conservation Area near Marshall Lake.

“Please put the prairie dogs in the prairie that you already have,” a seven-year-old Boulder resident told the council members.

No one at the meeting spoke against prairie dog relocation.

The Boulder City Council has the authority to decide if the Armory prairie dogs will be relocated to the conservation habitat. It has until Sept. 8 to make a decision.

If Boulder decides not to allow the colony to relocate, the developers have applied for a permit to exterminate the prairie dogs as a backup plan.

The developers are on board with relocation. They are offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who comes up with a viable relocation habitat.