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Rancher gets 3 months to shoot or drown thousands of rodents

May 24, 2018

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A judge has given a South Dakota woman who opposes using poison to control a prairie dog infestation on her ranch three months to shoot or drown 80 percent of the rodents, which number in the thousands.

Judge Jane Pfeifle on Wednesday gave Susan Henderson until Aug. 27 to comply with a prairie dog infestation notice from the Fall River County Weed & Pest Board, the Rapid City Journal reported . Henderson refuses to use the county’s preferred elimination method of tablets that release poisonous gas.

The judge determined that the poison, Fumitoxin, could harm other animals on Henderson’s land.

“Everybody who testified said that Fumitoxin will kill everything in that burrow, including the burrowing owls,” Pfeifle said.

The owls are protected by the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act and listed as a species of “concern” in South Dakota. Bald and golden eagles, which are both federally protected, would also be at risk if should they eat a poisoned rodent.

Pfeifle ruled that Henderson can shoot or drown the prairie dog colonies to an 80 percent kill rate.

Board supervisors inspected the property after Henderson’s neighbors complained last June about the prairie dogs, which can endanger cattle and damage grass. The board ordered Henderson to control the rodents in December, but specialists said she didn’t comply.

“I guess there’s approximately 8,000 dogs on her land,” said Ron Moehring, a state weed and pest specialist.

Henderson’s hired hunter, Mick Stoddard, promised to more actively shoot prairie dogs on the property.

Pfeifle scheduled a hearing for Sept. 5 to revisit if Henderson has controlled the infestation.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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