This document serves as an explanation of the City’s Prairie Dog Policy (Ordinance Number 2628 adopted on August 28, 2000), of the procedures for compliance, and of organizations available to perform prairie dog removal. A copy of Ordinance 2628 is attached as background information. Ordinance 2628 states that no Development Permits will be issued for development applications received after August 2000 until the developer documents good faith efforts to relocate prairie dogs from the land slated for development.
To verify compliance with the City’s Prairie Dog Policy, the City Development Department requires documentation from the developer at three key points in the development process:
- At First Submittal – Developer required to indicate (by marking the correct box on the development application) whether prairie dogs currently inhabit the site in question.
- Prior to Public Hearing – For Development Permits and Subdivision Plats, the developer must submit a letter that serves as evidence of good faith efforts to relocate the prairie dogs (see below for more details.) If a development project requires neither a Development Permit nor a Subdivision Plat, then the planner assigned to the project will determine the appropriate time for submission of the evidence of good faith effort.
- With Grading Permit Application – To receive a grading permit, the developer must submit a letter indicating actions taken to remove prairie dogs from the site.
Evidence of Good Faith Effort
The City of Thornton requires developers to submit a letter outlining actions taken in good faith to relocate prairie dog colonies from the development site, including the results of those efforts. The City of Thornton considers a good faith effort to relocate prairie dogs to include, at a minimum, but not limited to, two of the following actions:
- Contacting private and public property owners in Adams County to request use of their land for prairie dog relocation.
- Examining other personal property holdings of the developer, or other persons not listed, for suitability for prairie dog relocation.
- Working with Division of Wildlife and City Development staff to examine the possibility of including prairie dog colonies in the proposed development. (This option is possible only on a case-specific basis.)
- Contacting at least one or more prairie dog relocation organizations to attempt to schedule prairie dog relocation.
- Contacting a contractor to inquire into possibility of relocating the prairie dogs to a black-footed ferret farm or raptor rehabilitation center.
- Pursuing any other options known to the developer.
When good faith efforts reveal that relocation is possible, the developer is expected to relocate the prairie dogs, in conformance with Division of Wildlife policies, from the land slated for development. If good faith efforts reveal that relocation is not feasible, the developer may dispose of the prairie dogs through those extermination methods permitted by the Department of Agriculture.
Relocation Permit Application
In order to relocate prairie dogs, a permit is required from the Division of Wildlife. The process takes approximately 30 days and requires the applicant to identify the relocation site, the process through which the prairie dogs will be relocated and the relocation organization. The Division of Wildlife recommends that individuals who are attempting prairie dog relocation start by contacting a relocation organization, listed below.
Dog-Gone uses vacuuming to remove the prairie dogs. If the developer does not have a relocation site for the prairie dogs, they are donated to the black-footed ferret reintroduction program. The vacuuming is performed only between June and October. Currently there is a waiting list for this service.
Enviro-Zone is a business that specializes in protecting the natural environment. The company uses only trapping to relocate prairie dogs, which can be conducted at anytime during the year, except the birthing season which is approximately March through May. Enviro-Zone conducts relocation only. If a suitable relocation site is not identified, either by the developer or by the company, Enviro-Zone will not take the prairie dogs to the black-footed ferret reintroduction program. Enviro-Zone has extensive experience relocating prairie dogs throughout the Front Range, including in the cities of Boulder and Fort Collins and for the Stapleton Redevelopment Area.
Roe Ecological Services, LLC
Christopher Roe and Kelly Roe, Wildlife Biologists
970-532-1305 or toll free 866-494-5354
Roe Ecological Services, LLC (RES) is a wildlife consulting company staffed by wildlife biologists who are available to assist you with all of your prairie dog management needs, including live relocation, humane removals, wildlife surveys, barriers, and management plans. RES captures the prairie dogs utilizing above-ground cage-type live traps as this is the most efficient and humane capture method. All non-target animals, if trapped, are released unharmed onsite and if a relocation site is not available, the prairie dogs are quickly and humanely euthanized on-site with carbon dioxide gas. The prairie dogs are then frozen and taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center, such as the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program and the Birds of Prey Foundation, for food for other wildlife. Thus, the prairie dogs are able to fulfill at least a portion of their ecological purpose rather than being wasted.
Smith Environmental, Inc.
Peter Smith, Vice President
Smith Environmental, Inc (SEI) provides comprehensive environmental services, including site planning, environmental assessment, threatened and endangered species surveys, and wildlife and vegetation studies, among others. SEI can assist clients through the planning and permitting process for prairie dog relocation.
Animal & Pest Control Specialist, Inc.
3800 E. 64th Ave
Commerce City, CO 80022
Phone: 303-987-0842 Fax: 303-431-4968
Animal & Pest Control Specialists (APCS) is a nuisance wildlife removal company with an emphisis on prairie dog removals and management. All technicians carry licenses issued by either the Colorado Division of Wildlife and or Colorado Department of Agriculture. APCS has a division dedicated to prairie dog removals and works close with raptor programs and the USF&WS Black footed ferret program in Carr Colorado. APCS uses the most up to date methods and equipment when implementing TRAPPING, FLUSHING, or FUMIGATION programs in order to assist you and your needs. Any and all non-targe animals that are captured during the trapping or flushing process with be released immediately on site. All methods and procedures follow all city, county, state and federal rules and regulations.
State statutes prohibit the transfer of prairie dogs across county lines without the prior approval of the board of county commissioners of the receiving county. At present, neither the City of Thornton nor the Colorado Division of Wildlife know of designated prairie dog relocation sites in Adams County. Developers may wish to approach public and private landowners in Adams County to search for relocation sites. In addition, developers may wish to review their existing property holdings or to purchase land to examine the possibility of relocating the prairie dogs to another site within Adams County. The Division of Wildlife has guidelines as to what constitutes a suitable prairie dog relocation site. Contact the Division of Wildlife for specific guidelines at 303-297-1192 or visit their web site at www.wildlife.state.co.us.
Timing of Relocation
If a prairie dog relocation site is identified, be advised that the relocation process is lengthy, with approximately 30 days required to receive a relocation permit. In addition, prairie dogs can be relocated only at specific times during the year, which must be considered when planning relocation. While the relocation process must commence as early as possible in the development process to insure success, prairie dogs must be physically relocated close to the time of grading to prevent recolonization prior to the start of construction.
Please direct questions about the City of Thornton’s prairie dog ordinance to Mike Mallon at 303-538-7218.
To receive a prairie dog relocation permit application, or for more information about state regulations on prairie dogs, contact the Colorado Division of Wildlife at:
Denver, CO 80216