Prairie dog shooting ban shot down

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— Moffat County resident Chris Jurney drove to Grand Junction on Thursday, not to shop, but to testify against a proposed ban on prairie dog hunting.

Jurney recently circulated a voluntary petition opposing the ban across Craig and surrounding areas, which he presented to the Colorado Wildlife Commission at its meeting Thursday in Grand Junction.

He said he wanted to show the Wildlife Commission, which governs the Colorado Division of Wildlife, it had support.

"We (hunters, outdoorsmen and landowners) support the Wlidlife Commission and the Division," Jurney said. "We need to get to the science of everything and not base laws on emotion."

The Colorado Wildlife Commission agreed and voted unanimously to close discussion on the proposed ban at its meeting Thursday in Grand Junction.

The vote means that the proposal will not continue in the Commission's formal evaluation process and is effectively dead, said Randy Hampton, Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman.

"That issue is done," he said.

The Wildlife Commission found the prairie dog species was not in danger of dwindling populations, Hampton said.

"Biologically, it's not necessary to ban the recreational shooting of prairie dogs," he said.

The Colorado Attorney General's Office provided legal advice in this case to the Commission, Hampton said.

The proposed ban, a legal argument that prairie dog hunting does not meet the legal or moral definition of hunting, was rejected, he said.

The ban was written by two Denver University Sturm College of Law students and backed by the Wild Earth Guardians, a national environmental conservation group.

Hampton said the ban's claim that prairie dog hunting was not legal because hunters cared neither for the animal's meat or fur was invalid.

Animals that by their nature cause damage to land, livestock and property can be hunted without those requirements, he said.

"Predator hunting for damage (caused) certainly does not have to meet definitions for food or fur," Hampton said. "There's an agriculture and landowner damage and nuisance code, also."

Ban supporters cannot appeal the Wildlife Commission's decision, Hampton added. The proposal essentially was an appeal against current statutes.

Jurney said he still is worried the issue could be resurrected as a statewide ballot initiative or a lawsuit against the state.

"For now, the issue is done," Jurney said. "But such an emotional issue like this one, there's always a danger it could come back."

Comments

grannyrett 6 years, 7 months ago

Google Wild Earth Guardians-They have found a cause, and they will be back. Scary! They seem to think that everyone who shoots a prairie dog is driving all over hell and gone and killing them in the thousands. Talk about exaggerating the facts. The people I know that shoot them, myself included, are land owners on their own property.

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hunter 6 years, 7 months ago

Good going. The Gaurdians of Earth will be back and they are a scary group of lop sided individuals who strive to tell all how to live and try to limit land owners rights. Keep a close oeye on them. They arethe same sort of group that pushed the trapping ban and bear hunting bans through.

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rhammel 6 years, 7 months ago

While I am not in favor of prairie dog shooting, the Wildlife Commission has made it's ruling. And so be it. The issue is closed. Next issue? I don't know, unless someone wants to drill in my backyard!

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