By Deanna Meyer
Recently I heard news that our county (Douglas in Colorado) was getting one of the nation’s biggest malls. The news simultaneously sunk my heart and angered me. Why the hell do we need another mall? To consume the world? Then my mind raced to the location of the mall, and the prairie dogs that live there. I had been worried about this colony before, about the strong possibility that the remaining colonies comprising hundreds of prairie dogs would be destroyed for some kind of development. After all, a Lowe’s store, an outlet mall, a housing project, and a tire store had occupied their territory and had already killed thousands of these dogs in the name of “development.” And this was the final solution for the 3,000 to 8,000 remaining burrows: complete annihilation of the prairie dogs for a shopping mall set to cover 170 acres in concrete.

Once the news sunk in, I called the town of Castle Rock, where the new mall is slated to be developed and spoke with the government official in charge of the construction. I was given the contact information of the individual working with Alberta Development (the development company constructing the mall) on the prairie dog “problem.” She was kind and helpful, as developers are trained to be when it comes to dealing with “pesky environmentalists” and let me know that the current plan for the prairie dogs was to cage them, kill them, and send them off to the nearest raptor farm to feed the birds. All the dogs. Hundreds of prairie dog families sucked up out of their only homes, caged, killed, and fed to the raptors. She informed me they had tried to find new places for them to be relocated, but had no success, so this was the only possibility left for the prairie dogs. She extended an invitation to help her find relocation areas with assurance that if we found a place, they would cover the costs for the relocation and support us in any way they could to make that transfer happen. All I needed to do was find private land owners in Douglas County who were willing to have prairie dogs on their land. I knew that in our county, it would not be easy to locate such land owners. Ranchers and conservatives have a long history of deep-seated hatred for these animals as they perceive prairie dogs as a nuisance and a threat to their cash herds and crops. Landowners by and large are perfectly willing to accept prairie dog extermination as good business practice.

kiss-prairiedogsGrabbing my camera, my next plan of action was to visit these prairie dog families and spend some time with them, to witness what was happening with the development of the mall. As I drove past the thousands of burrows, my heart was racing and sadness pulsated through me. I found a good spot to pull over and started to listen and watch as I walked among the dogs. Individual scouts were sitting on top of their burrows chatting away, relaying information to their families below. People studying prairie dogs have found that the colonies have their own distinct languages and dialects and have different words for coyotes, hawks, snakes and humans. They even distinguish between the different colors of shirts people are wearing. As I watched them chatting, I was imagining what it was they were communicating to each other. I assumed they were sharing that a scary person holding a strange contraption was encroaching on their homes and they were taking their necessary precautions. After all, it was just a couple weeks before when Alberta Development created a rock crushing area that destroyed hundreds of homes and buried their neighbors alive.

As I walked among their colonies, their alert calls became louder and several of them sat on top of their burrows with tails wagging in tune to their chattering warning calls. As I watched, they started to get used to me and stopped being on high alert. I could see them stretching out on the top of their homes and several of them were in pairs and were hugging and kissing each other while they were basking in the sun. One of the dogs wobbled towards me in a brave and playful manner until he lost his bearings and decided to race back to his friend for comfort. As I watched these families and friends rolling, eating, singing and calling out warnings, trucks, heavy equipment and one car after another raced around them with deafening roars. It didn’t require much imagination to understand how stressful and terrifying it must be to live in this chaos and danger every day, to be forced to witness friends and family being smashed by giant, smoking machines, to be evicted to far corners of their world, the only places left to survive, constantly uprooted by the encroachment of a “civilized” human world where malls and parking lots take priority over the living biomes of multitudes of diverse lives. This fate is what is left for all of them, despite their ability to thrive on the land for generation upon generation.

Prairie dogs are an essential component of the health and biodiversity of the prairies and are considered keystone species, meaning they are essential to the balance of prairie life. The biodiversity that exists in these biomes cannot remain in healthy balance without their existence. There are at least 170 known species that are dependent on the prairie dogs for survival and when the prairie dogs are removed from these areas, those other species can no longer survive and the prairies lose their biodiversity. Prairie dog colonies are the preferred grazing areas for ungulates; the nutrient-dense plants that grow there are a result of the dogs digging up nutrients that become readily available for the plants to absorb. Contrary to myth, there has never been one documented case of an animal being so ignorant as to step into their burrows.

Before the rise of the consumerist culture on this continent, prairie dogs were densely populated throughout the prairies. The largest known colony covered 25,000 square miles and was home to perhaps 400 million prairie dogs. The total range was about 150,000 to 200,000 square miles and the population of the prairie dogs was well over a billion. The colony here in Douglas County is now one of the largest on the Front Range, and consists of between 3,000 and 8,000 burrows covering approximately 150 acres. The prairie dogs are now reduced to three percent of their range and less than one percent of their population and are truly an endangered species, but are not labeled as such because of their inappropriate status of “pest.” Such labeling makes it easy for otherwise squeamish developers to do the dirty work associated with their elimination, and to sell this practice to the uninformed.

After my visit with the prairie dogs, I contacted the developer to inquire what my timeline was for finding a relocation spot. The developer informed me (in late November) that we had to find a home for them no later than late March. However, in working with the Prairie Dog Coalition of the Humane Society of the United States, I learned that relocating prairie dogs any time before June is problematic and carries a lower success (survival) rate. Female prairie dogs spend the better part of the fall and winter preparing for their babies by building a nesting room in their burrows. After months of working on these nests, they get pregnant in January and February. After giving birth, females tend to stay down inside their burrows until April to May, once their babies are mature enough to come out of their nests. If the colony is disturbed after they have had their babies between March and May, the babies and the mothers will be buried alive because they do not leave their nest area. This is why Colorado Parks and Wildlife doesn’t give permits for relocation to take place until June 1st.

The ground is also cold and often frozen in Colorado at this time of the year with little edible vegetation, making the chances for relocation success even slimmer. This is compounded by the trauma prairie dog families and friends experience from being sucked out of their burrows and spewed into cages, then transported (if they even survive that far) to an unfamiliar area leaving all these vulnerable animals terrified, traumatized and separated from their relatives, which is alone enough to kill them. Further, they face the dangers of being buried alive in burrows, crushed under the wheels of construction machinery, or being killed for sport by bored workers, spectators, or trespassers. Prairie dog relocation is harsh enough in a “good” time of the year, but in March the chances for their survival are bleak indeed. If these prairie dogs are to be given any reasonable chance to live, our priority is to convince Alberta Development to wait until June so we have time to find a relocation spot where they will have a chance to survive.

I once again head back to the remnant of what was once a vibrant prairie dog colony to contemplate the next steps I should take to ensure their survival. I see the thousands of burrows and hundreds of dogs spread across the landscape, surviving against the odds of a culture hell bent on destruction. The sun beams down on their homes and they start to chatter and run back and forth across the ground, to their burrows. All around them I see the construction starting to take place: the large dirt mounds, the huge trucks rolling back and forth, the rock crushing area that recently buried hundreds of them alive. What words did those families share with each other as their world turned dark, as they desperately sucked in their last breath of air as the oxygen left their burrows? What will the remaining families communicate as the machines of death dump concrete over their only homes? Will they have words for their holocaust? What words will they use if they are sucked up into cages only to be euthanized and fed to raptors? How will the mothers deal with the loss of their children from whom they are separated in transport, if in fact they are not killed along the way? All these thoughts race through my head and continue to do so.

All for a shopping mall. A mall we don’t need and don’t even pretend to. But life wants to live and these dogs need this land. They need a place that will sustain them and future generations. And the prairies need these animals. The hawks need them, the coyotes, the fox and the black-footed ferret. We need these animals, whether or not we choose to see it. We need private landowners who are willing to bring these creatures onto their land, not as a work of charity or penance for sins imagined or real, but to improve the biodiversity of the prairies. We need to fight for the prairie dogs, because they cannot fight against the machines paving their homes with concrete to erect more malls that are continuously failing in our current economy. The fate of these dogs rests with us, and it is not enough to stand by, wringing our hands as we witness yet another tragedy. We must stand together and put pressure on Alberta Development to, at the minimum, put off construction of “the nation’s biggest mall” until June in order to give these prairie dogs a chance at survival. And then we need to wake up to the understanding that prairie dogs are a keystone species on our prairies and begin to welcome them back home.

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides.

76 Responses to The Nation’s Biggest Mall Slated to Kill One of the Largest Prairie Dog Colonies on Colorado’s Front Range

  1. avatar Amre says:

    How could people do this and not think of the consequences in the 21st century? Sometimes, it appears we haven’t changed since the 1800s.

    • 2/5 This article states different circumstances. http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/utah-residents-take-on-rodents-in-their-front-yards-and-in-washington/
      Someone explain to me how the ESA protects the dogs in Utah but not Colorado. Insanity.

      • avatar Nancy says:

        “At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour.”
        ~ Edward Abbey

      • avatar Mark L says:

        Candy Copeland,
        Remember that’s just an opinion piece, not all of the article is ‘fact’.

        Reminder about the article’s author–“Jonathan Wood is a staff attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation. He represents property owners of Cedar City, Utah, in their challenge to the constitutionality of ESA regulations for the Utah prairie dog”

      • avatar Ellen says:

        There are five different subspecies of prairie dogs. Only two are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

    • avatar JC says:

      The same happened to the Native Americans. The rightful owners of the land shared it. Yet, greed had them killed and their lands stolen. Most were relocated and even then their land was shrunk. That was the largest known genocide/robbery. Look there are no buffaloes either. Many North American species were extinct. This is not new, but it is getting old.

    • avatar Deanna Meyer says:

      “Vacant” land meaning that the thousands of prairie dogs just don’t count. Profit over life, the mantra of our culture.

  2. avatar skyrim says:

    “Through spiritual awakening the values of consumerism are revealed as increasingly shallow and false. Grasping and possessing give way to love and integrity, an innermost desire to live in harmony with all creation. There comes a longing to live more simply for the sake of our own hearts, and a growing sense of responsibility for the life of the earth.”
    Jack Kornfield
    (from After the Ecstacy)

  3. avatar Nancy says:

    Deanna, thanks for this article. Since Castle Rock is only interested in $$ signs, the next step might be to contact BLM and see if there’s room on the 8.3 million acres of public lands (our lands) for these little dogs. Below is the contact information for anyone else who might also want to write and ask:

    http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/contact_us.html

    • avatar Deanna Meyer says:

      Thank you Nancy. Unfortunately in Colorado, the laws make it virtually impossible to move these amazing creatures over county lines.

  4. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    It’s like a nightmare, isn’t it. Kill the prairie dogs and feed them to raptors (whether they need them or not!). I would have felt my jaw drop as this woman seriously made this suggestion.

    But where are the raptors? Killed off for the wind farms. And the tortoises are being killed off for the solar farms. Why do we need so many boring malls, restaurants, etc. anyway? I wish people would wake up from their stupor and at least question these things. For superficial reasons such as being the biggest, the first, and money.

    Let’s hope it can be delayed.

  5. avatar ramses09 says:

    Why not get a petition going??

  6. avatar adrian says:

    I live in Missouri and we have4 malls in my area that are vacant or on the verge of closing. here we have simply over developed

    • avatar Rita says:

      It looks like Colorado is going to make the same mistake. That area already has enough stores etc. When are people going to figure out that “stuff” isn’t going to make them happy and having a zillion options on where to buy this stuff isn’t going to help them.

  7. avatar Yvette says:

    Deanna, is there a group effort working on this, and if so, how can we help? I would be glad to submit letters to the development company and to the Castle Rock city officials. If there is a group or coalition working on this I’d like to reference their efforts in those letters. I’d also garner support from others to also write to them.

    Interestingly, Douglas County has a webpage addressing prairie dog conservation, http://www.douglas.co.us/openspace/prairie-dog-conservation/ The also have a link to their prairie dog conservation written policy. I’ve not read the policy yet, but from page 3:

    It is the County’s policy, if reasonable and feasible, to attempt a passive
    relocation protocol or a nonlethal land management strategy (e.g., barrier construction)
    designed to encourage prairie dogs to relocate to areas away from or exclude prairie dogs
    from adjacent lands where prairie dogs are not desired. The passive relocation technique
    is a multistep approach that is designed to begin with low-level earth-disturbing activities
    within an established zone to encourage prairie dogs to relocate on their own volition.
    Passive relocation will be discouraged during the birthing, nursing, and early rearing
    period generally from March 1 through May 31.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      “Hans Stuart, a spokesman for BLM’s New Mexico state office in Santa Fe, said the agency has not been officially approached about relocating prairie dogs to BLM lands. “We certainly would consider it,” he said, adding that the agency would have to conduct an environmental assessment before approving any relocation project”

      http://www.eenews.net/stories/64037/print

      • avatar Yvette says:

        Arrrrg, here go the *&^(%’d cattlemen again. They act like they own all of the federal land.

        “Eric Ness, a spokesman for the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau, said his group would be opposed to moving prairie dogs to BLM lands, particularly grazing allotments.”

        Sigh, yet one more big animal/conservation issue that needs attention.

        A map of historical prairie dog range.

        http://www.prairiedoglover.com/species.htm

        • avatar Ida Lupines says:

          Thanks for the map, Yvette. Thankfully the public also has a right to decide how federal lands are managed. Special interests can’t control both private and public lands.

          Social media! I think people won’t be very inclined to spend their money at a mall that has such unethical practices. Facebook and others get lots of traffic.

          What’s the possibility of news media picking it up? ‘Deflate-gate’ must be wearing a little thin by now.

          • avatar Chris Harbin says:

            I’m sorry to disagree Ida but my guess is that the people who want the mall built have few, if any, environmental ethics. The majority of people who subsequently go to the mall probably have no idea about the issues behind building the damn thing. I hope you are right though.

            I would also be glad to help stop this if there is anything I can do.

      • avatar Marc Bedner says:

        Nancy & Yvette: Douglas County’s ordinance sounds similar to the ordinance in Santa Fe. While passed in response to protests over prairie dog killing, the Santa Fe ordinance soon became an excuse to remove prairie dogs from the city, to make way for development. Over the years, as in the 2008 article you cited on BLM, the focus has been on where to relocate prairie dogs, not how to save them.

        Of course, the most suitable habitat is where prairie dogs have already settled. The problem is development, in allegedly liberal cities like Santa Fe and Boulder, as well as in conservative areas. Even where there are ordinances addressing mitigation, there is no attempt to stop all this destructive development. There is money in building malls, even if the customers never show up, as well as in relocating prairie dogs. There is no money to be made from protecting wildlife.

        • avatar Yvette says:

          I read the link Nancy put up, and sort of ascertained that relocating them is difficult, if possible at all.

          It appears even if someone worked on this and BLM went through the EA process there would still be a fight from the grazing lease holders.

          I thought malls were on the way out, but I guess I’m wrong. There are, however, many with empty spaces and others that have completely shut down.

          My tribe bought a mall a couple years ago. It was a fairly new one that was built in a high income area. When the mall first opened it was marketed as having ‘high end’ stores. I’m not sure what happened but it did not succeed even though it is a river front location. Here in Tulsa we have another mall fight happening, too. We have a fabulous little wilderness area with about 300 acres of great trails for hiking, trail running and mountain biking. Most of this area is not flat land, but rocky and hilly. From parts of the trail we we get a great view of the Arkansas river. I think, about half of the land is city land, so it’s safe. There are other trails that are on private land, but the owner is allowing or sold to Simon malls. There is a fairly new mall about a mile south of where this mall is slated to be built. It is doing well, and spurred more development. I don’t see a ‘high end’ mall succeeding in that area, but what do I know.

          It pretty much sucks but I’m glad we won’t lose all of it.

    • avatar Yvette says:

      If I put too many links in one post it triggers the post to be approved, so I’m doing two posts.

      Here is the USFWS page on the black footed prairie dog and it has a lot of links.

      http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/btprairiedog/

      And here is a link to HSUS status report on the five prairie dog species. It looks like the black-footed prairie dog has lost 99% of their historic range of the last 150 years…..yet USFWS didn’t merit an endangered status for them.

      I’ll prepare a letter and will encourage some others to do so. Any efforts by conservation groups or coalitions that I can reference will be helpful.

      • avatar Yvette says:

        Thanks Nancy! Also, I called it the black-footed prairie dog. Wrong, wrong, wrong! It is the black-tailed prairie dog.

    • avatar Brian Ertz says:

      The mall doesn’t want to wait until May 31. There will be a public hearing Feb 17 where the Town Council will choose whether or not to adopt an amendment to the plan required to build the mall.

      It sounds as though the city is considering earth moving permits, that perhaps the developers plan to bury the prairie dogs alive on 40 of the acres in preparation of subsequent imminent development

  8. This developer’s plans to build a mall appears to be in direct conflict with the county’s own prairie dog conservation plan. Instead of considering a time-table for nonlethal removal of these innocent, sentient and valuable animals…it went right to the lethal, path of least resistance solution. There are environmental groups that can take legal action to help delay this development until relocation has a chance. They are EarthJustice, WildEarth Guardians, Defenders of Wildlife and Center for Biological Diversity, to name a few. A court order could delay this development and give supporters the time they need.

    I would be glad to write and publish an article on my Examiner.com column once any kind of call to action is in place.

  9. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    I thought we already had the biggest mall in the nation, in MN? Now someone wants a bigger one, and then someone else will want a bigger one after that. Like the tallest building. These Snidely Whiplash developers can’t extend the time so that construction can be delayed? They might lose money for a month or two – the horror!

    These little guys are so sweet (and complex societies), it’s heartbreaking. Poor things. I’ll help – I hope the BLM will consider helping too.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      Ida Lupines,

      I think the biggest mall in Colorado

      • avatar Ida Lupines says:

        Oh, sorry!

        I hate this big, bigger, biggest stuff.

        Not that I haven’t shopped at malls and megastores, but I prefer to spend my money nowadays with small businesses, who oftentimes offer more unique things and more personal service. I miss stores that carrying one thing and do it well, or repair shops! Now it is just throwaway, buy again, and even planned obsolescence with no thought or concern for the environment. I got an ironic chuckle out of the George Carlin video Nancy posted about – Plastics! 🙂

      • avatar WM says:

        Castle Rock is pretty much equi-distant from Denver and Colorado Springs, along the I-25 Front Range Corridor, where the prairie meets the first sandstone ridges of the Rocky Mountains. There has been a lot of build-up in this area over the years, since the first big development boom of the 1970’s. There is a world class golf course in the area as well – Castle Pines, which has been supplanted with 3 or 4 more high end golf courses. This is a magnet for home development.

        In short it is suburbia, with relatively cheap land and a doable commute for those who would work in the big city, in either direction. Also has a number of airline pilots and attendants that work out of the Denver airport hub (in the top 20 busiest airports in the world). From the big-builder mall mindset perspective, what better place to build outlet malls, and now the biggest friggin’ mall in CO? Dad plays golf, while Mom (if she doesn’t join Dad on the course) and the kids go to the mall to shop for 4 hours, and maybe have a nice lunch or dinner at the 4 star golf course restaurant.

        An old friend of mine was the Douglas County manager back in the 1990’s. The struggle and constant tension between the use of land and preserving habitat for wildlife along the Front Range has been going for decades. I think he was shown the door when he went against the Douglas County Commissioners too much on wildlife habitat protection vs. private property rights.

        Years ago I served on a Front Range Land Use Committee for 3 term D Governor Richard Lamm. He was a visionary of sorts, and saw this happening, and wanted to slow it down. His vision was continued by Governor Roy Romer (both good guys), but the CO Legislature would have none of it, and the state has been leaning further R and private land use rights advanced, with more local decision-making. I haven’t followed this much in the last 20 years, but it appears little has changed for the better.

        Also probably important to mention that black tailed prairie dogs are very abundant along the Front Range, so there’s no real big social stigma to dozing over a few colonies regardless of size and location, especially immediately along the I-25 Corridor.

        Cheap gas, conspicuous consumer mentality and private property rights are alive and well along CO’s Front Range. Expect more of this stuff.

        And, from what I can tell in quick look at the Douglas County prairie dog conservation plan/policy, it applies ONLY TO COUNTY OPEN SPACE, with very little mention (if any) on preserving colonies or requiring some kind of mitigation on private land developments.

        • avatar WM says:

          Sorry, …COUNTY OWNED OPEN SPACE,…

          That means County parks and trails, and the like.

        • avatar Brian Ertz says:

          The development is required to amend an ordinance of the Castle Rock’s Zone District Map and approve the mall (Promenade At Castle Rock Planned Development Plan), approve development plan, and approve other amendments to zoning regulations. (Town Council Notice of Town Council Public Hearing to approve those plans on February 17).

          The planning commission staff report has made a misrepresentation to the Town Council of Castle Rock. Development planning amendments (of which this mall is currently pursuing with the Town of Castle Rock) requires an assessment of wildlife values pursuant to municipal code 17.34.030 subsection F. Apparently the town staff recommendation/report just rubber stamped the developer’s claim that that the development is consistent with municipal code 17.34.030(F) which specifies that “consideration shall be given to wildlife impact. . .” in the area.

          The staff report’s response to this requirement of “consideration” in total:

          The site has been grazed for many years and is located far outside Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse habitat

          .

          There is reason to believe that the burrowing owl may be in the vicinity – additionally, the PD Plan Amendment General Notes prescribe:

          3. If any earth moving will begin between March 1st and October 31st, the developer shall conduct a burrowing owl survey.

          PD Plan Amendment, Page 4 General Note 3.

          Of course, this prescription of the PD Plan Amendment was made prior to the developer’s current attempt to expedite the moving of earth on 40 acres of this prairie dog habitat. It is unclear whether this attempt to expedite the impending earth moving was to technically sneak by (prior to) the prescribed survey of burrowing owl.

          This, and there is certainly the presence of hundreds, if not thousands, of prairie dogs. In the staff findings in regards to the PD plans, consistency with the land use principles established in the towns 2020 Comprehensive Master Plan and planned development approval plan criteria, the staff failed to consider wildlife impacts to prairie dogs and burrowing owls pursuant to municipal code 17.34.030(F).

          If anyone has contact with a CO attorney or city planner that could give an idea as to the applicability and/or enforceability of that municipal code as it relates to the amendment that the town council needs to make and to the impending earth-moving activities on 40-acres that could occur at any time, please contact myself or Deanna.

          • avatar WM says:

            Brian,

            [I see this is within the Castle Rock incorporated area/municipal planning area and butts up against Castle Pines Village. I was earlier under the impression it was rural Douglas County outside the city and a shared planning area).]

            Looks like a municipal law/zoning question. Don’t know if this person does much of that (or would do pro bono in this area), but she could perhaps direct you to someone who might have the right background and allegiances, as well as the answers to questions you raise.

            http://www.rbarnhartlaw.com/about/attorneys/melissa_anne_hailey

            Query whether in this area bounded by I-25, Hiway 85 and existing development on both ends really raises issues that can reverse or even slow down this project. “Consideration of wildlife values” strikes me as a quick check the box type review. The future of this piece of ground was likely cast long, long ago, merely by its location.

          • avatar Ed Loosli says:

            Brian and Deanna:
            Thanks you and the others for trying to come to the prairie-dogs rescue.
            Yes, it looks like this is a local land-use/zoning matter within the City of Castle Rock. If the City Council approves this Mall project, any group of concerned local citizens can file for an immediate injunction to stop the project until their grievances are heard in court…It looks like there are good grounds for a lawsuit based on Castle Rocks own ordinances that Brian mentioned. The whole point of asking for an immediate injunction, if the Mall project is approved on Feb. 17th is to stop it all together, and if that is not possible, then it hopefully the case will drag on into the Summer to give enough time to relocate the prairie-dogs. I hope so.

          • avatar Brian Ertz says:

            WM and Ed,

            Thank you for your helpful thoughts. We will move on a local attorney.

            We’ll keep all apprised – and of course, any thoughts are always welcome – I will check this forum, and email, regularly.

            • avatar Louise Kane says:

              I think it would help to have several products to enhance any legal efforts and to engage locals.
              1) a petition circulated and signed by local people and scientists.
              2) a billboard
              3) this article is very well written with a strong focus on the social nature of prairie dogs and their families. It would be worthwhile to see if you can get a sympathetic filmmaker to cut a 5 minute video on the plight of the animals while retaining the focus on the family aspect of prairie dog communities. Send it to legislators and post it on your site.
              4) if you have not already, try approaching the developer and use the video to explain the devastation that the development will have on the colonies and ask for more time.

              some of this takes money but the video could be done by a local video maker with an inexpensive video camera and fins cut pro on a laptop.

          • avatar Louise Kane says:

            This article reminded me of the prairie dog plight. This community created a citizen’s group that creates wildlife corridors (small ) but the founder had some good ideas about getting the community involved. Its critical for people living in the mall area to see these animals as Deanna has written about them. From the article,

            “The Simards’ cottage in the Hollywood Hills belongs to the Santa Monica range. For most of the city’s history, no developer could economically build on the mountains’ steeper slopes, so urban development was separated by large swaths of open space. But in the early 2000s, property values spiked and engineers were smarter. Steep-slope building suddenly became worth the expense and risk. Cement trucks, cranes, and bulldozers moved up the winding canyon roads. The new construction crews were not putting up 800-square-foot cottages like the one the Simards live in, or bungalows cantilevered over the sides of canyons. They were sinking steel beams for sealed fortresses thrust into hillsides, concrete boxes with spectacular views of the sage-scrub elfin forest.

            Alison Simard at first thought the Atia houses were in violation of an anti-“mansionization” ordinance the city passed in 2008, limiting the floor plan to lot-size ratio. Then she talked to Paul Edelman, a biologist with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, and realized she had an even better legal argument. Edelman had drawn maps of migratory pathways wildlife takes through the mountains, and the new houses cut right into them. Because the development harmed wildlife, it was in violation of California’s Environmental Quality Act. She and her neighbors formed a “concerned residents” coalition, and in August 2012, they sued.”

            http://www.takepart.com/feature/2015/01/30/urban-wildlife-backyard-bear-mountain-lions-in-cities?cmpid=tpdaily-eml-2015-01-30

      • avatar Brian Ertz says:

        This article characterizes it as one of nation’s biggest malls:

        Castle Rock getting one of nation’s largest new malls

  10. avatar Patricia Lovejoy says:

    Is there anything we can do to help? I would love to help fight this.

  11. avatar Gary Humbard says:

    If re-locating these prairie dogs to BLM managed land is proposed, it needs to start immediately. Preparing a EA and decision record takes a minimum 3 months and then there’s time for public comment. It may be too late for this colony but I would think that with as much land the BLM manages (millions of acres) and the benefits that they provide (EA will provide factual information) it may not be a hard sell to the BLM for future re-locations.

    Ranchers will not be happy but due to their low population and habitat status, I’m sure with enough public pressure, the BLM can find places for their re-location.

  12. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    The facebook page for the Castle Rock Prairie Dogs is here:

    https://www.facebook.com/savethecastlerockmallprairiedogs

    On it there is pictures & video of the prairie dogs.

  13. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    Youtube Deanna took of the prairie dogs:

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      It just turns my stomach that there is never enough to satisfy humans. 🙁 The drone of automobiles is obnoxious.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      Not to take away from the prairie dog video Brian but it looks like Deanna also captured some amazing footage of how nothing goes to waste in the natural world. Even some rancher’s guard dogs took advantage of the feast:

  14. avatar Joanne Favazza says:

    Burying prairie dogs alive to build another f*cking mall? This entire culture is pathological and insane.

  15. avatar Ian Westwood says:

    As I read the article I was getting more and more annoyed at mans arrogance. What right to just take this land and either kill or relocate these ” vermin” to a place where they could be carefully controlled.
    My mind was struck by the irony when you think of the Native American Indians.

  16. avatar Pam says:

    This sickens me. When will WE evolve as a species, I wonder.

  17. avatar WyoWolfFan says:

    Prairie dogs have been losing territory for years along the Front Range. It’s sad to see how these animals are thought of as highly as rats.

  18. It seems that every governor or mayor elected in the U.S.
    becomes a cheerleader for growth. Chambers of commerce
    lead the charge for more people and more shopping “opportunity”. They see every new person as a additional consumer that will buy something and add to the bottom line.
    The prairie dog story is just one of many involving a host of disappearing wild animals due to an overpopulation of us humans.
    Here in Idaho, were have the Snake River Birds of Prey area that was set aside because of the large numbers of eagles, hawks. falcons and owls that nest on the cliffs overlooking the Snake River.
    They are there, because of the large colonies of ground squirrels that serve as food for the birds of prey and their young.
    The ground squirrels are just coming out of hibernation and will soon become targets for for a rabble of shooters that enjoy using high powered rifles to blow the squirrels into a spray of blood and guts. Some of them set up shooting benches in the shadow of their vehicle, just far enough off the roadway to be legal, and shoot these small cousins of prairie dogs all day long.
    How the BLM and IDF&G see this as compatible with the Birds of Prey area I will never understand.
    The blown up squirrels serve as food for the scavengers like ravens and this has caused a large increase in their population. This is happens all over southern Idaho every spring.
    Now the IDF&G has decided that ravens are a threat to the sage grouse and have authorized poisoning of ravens where ever there are sage grouse.
    Insanity!!!!

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      yes insanity, and all of us have an obligation to remind our fish and wildlife agencies that they have a responsibility to adapt their institutions to progress and be progressive and proactive stewards of wildlife. They should be held accountable and that won’t happen unless enough people demand new laws and regulations. There is too much inertia and resistance to bad institutional policy.

    • avatar Ed Loosli says:

      It’s not just ground squirrels dodging bullets in Idaho – It’s National Guard troops.
      April 15, 2007|John Miller | Associated Press

      BOISE, IDAHO — On Idaho’s high desert, prairie falcons and eagles soar above the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, hunting ground squirrels that pop their heads by the thousands above the warming earth.

      Also watching for the rodents are bands of ATV-riding, gun-toting sport shooters, some of whom also take potshots at the federally protected birds or grazing cattle — all on 68,000 acres of private in-holding land of the 490,000-acre federal preserve that is declared off-limits to rifles and pistols.

      The federal Bureau of Land Management is considering forbidding the weapons on another 41,000 acres of the conservation area by this summer, but not just because of bird or cow mortality. Shooters’ bullets are whizzing around Idaho Army National Guard troops, who say slugs bounce off their tanks on a regular basis.
      “There’s a segment of the shooting community that will shoot at anything that moves,” said John Sullivan, the Conservation Area’s manager.

      • avatar ramses09 says:

        Those people out in that area really do think they OWN everything & they will not be held responsible or have any consequences @ all for their horrid behavior. What a bunch of losers.

  19. Some years ago, while fishing on Dry Creek (A tributary of the Little Lost River upstream from Howe, Idaho) I encountered a troop of boy scouts from Blackfoot, Idaho camping there. Their scoutmaster had brought them to Dry Creek with their .22s and they spent most of their time shooting ground squirrels for fun.

  20. avatar Nancy says:

    “Humans — who enslave, castrate, experiment on, and fillet other animals — have had an understandable penchant for pretending animals do not feel pain. A sharp distinction between humans and ‘animals’ is essential if we are to bend them to our will, make them work for us, wear them, eat them — without any disquieting tinges of guilt or regret.

    It is unseemly of us, who often behave so unfeelingly toward other animals, to contend that only humans can suffer. The behavior of other animals renders such pretensions specious. They are just too much like us”/Carl Sagan

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Carl_Sagan

  21. avatar JB says:

    “A sharp distinction between humans and ‘animals’ is essential if we are to bend them to our will, make them work for us, wear them, eat them — without any disquieting tinges of guilt or regret.”

    Na, throughout history we have used, enslaved, murdered (en mass) and even eaten other humans. All that is needed is to believe one is right in doing so.

    • avatar Yvette says:

      “Na, throughout history we have used, enslaved, murdered (en mass) and even eaten other humans. All that is needed is to believe one is right in doing so.”

      ++ JB…..and we keep doing it over and over. I cannot figure out why our species is so easily convinced we can be right to murder and enslave others that we deem deserve that treatment.

      I read Chris Hedges article on the new movie, American Sniper. His take on the key character sounds precisely like one of those that believed he was right in his actions that murdered women, kids and old people or pretty much anyone. He was ‘killing for God’.

  22. avatar Jeanne Rasmussen says:

    Our group, WWAG (Wolf and Wildlife Action Group) is a grassroots boots on the ground Peaceful Civil Disobedience activists. We are currently protesting the killing of wolves in Idaho and Montana and we are trying to prevent Sally Rice and Don Ashe from taking wolves off the endangered species list in the lower 48 states with the exception of New Mexico that has Mexican Gray wolves back on the Endangered Species list.

    Our “leader” (we network via Facebook nationally to organize our PCD’s)is a long time PCD activist and sites Rosa Parks as an example of a successful PCD. PCD is not a protest or a demonstration or a rally. We are ordinary citizens who organize where our PCD will occur and have a plan of action, have local TV stations and newspapers as well as National media such as the New York Times, all lined up to provide news coverage of our PCD. WWAG has primarily had PCD’s at capital buildings in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Wisconsin. We carry signs which we have made to promote our cause and we will obstruct entrances to the buildings. We’ve seen people chain themselves to a barrel trying to bring attention to the killing of Bison in Yellowstone National Park. Obstructing a piece of machinery developing a property would be another good idea. The primary goal of a PCD is to get media attention. We have had local newspapers, magazines, and television stations publish our actions. Sadly we have not achieved National recognition yet but that is still our goal. Obstructing a door to the capital buildings is one of the ways our members operate. Going into the capital and having the media follow us to the governor’s office asking to speak to him is another way. We have not been allowed to speak to a governor yet and we have been to Wyoming, Wisconsin, Montana, and Idaho. We get a statement we have written about our cause signed by the person in charge of the entry to the governor’s office and if necessary, the goal is to get arrested. We have had two arrests and they have been two of our most successful PCD’s. All of this must happen in front of the media or forget about doing it. And there is absolutely no violence.
    It sounds as though you don’t have a lot of time to save those prairie dogs. Isn’t there a local chapter of Friends of Prairie Dogs, or something similar?
    I just threw this suggestion out because it can and does work. I wish you success in your endeavors to save those prairie dogs. We agree that taking any animal from the ecosystem, whether a wolf or a prairie dog, interferes with the balance of nature.

  23. avatar ramses09 says:

    I had no idea that they were already plowing over the poor little guys. WTF. It breaks my heart. What to do?? I watched Deanna video – they are adorable. I just hate humans. We have not treated “Mother Earth” very well @ all.
    I feel so helpless – 🙁
    If there is anything I can do @ all PLEASE let me know. I will provide phone # or email address if you ask for it.

  24. I was not able to read through the entire string just now so sorry if I’m stupidly suggesting the obvious.. but have you reached out to the Colorado HSUS? I remember I was at a presentation last year where they recognized someone who coordinated rescuing prairie dogs during the floods. Also I will do what I can to help. I drive by this every day and it makes me sick and embarrassed to live in Castle Rock.

  25. avatar rcirillo says:

    Prairie Dogs or no prairie dogs I don’t want this monster in my home town. I didn’t want the outlet mall either but we have it and it’s about 1/4 empty. We don’t need another shopping mall bringing 100’s of minimum wage jobs to Douglas County which does not afford one to live here. The outlet mall already offers hundreds of crappy minimum wage jobs and a great big mall will make no difference.

    I have been here all my life, literally, and there are plenty of fancy neighborhoods none of which are affordable to someone working in retail. That is not being a snob, I don’t live in the expensive neighborhoods but it is a fact. Retail is not doing so well in America as stores continue to go out of business because there is no economic recovery. So while the talking heads just cannot figure out why no one is shopping, now that gas prices are so low, it’s because our unemployment is more like 30% and no one has any money. If shopping is going to solve the economic woes it already would have. I can get to a mall in 15 minutes as can the rest of you. We are more likely headed to a full blown depression the way the government has spent us into oblivion, as is the rest of the world. America is teetering on the edge and we are not going to fix this economic nightmare. We are too far gone, too much debt and nothing to generate the money to pay it.

    Please do not fall for this baloney about helping the economy. This is not going to help anyone. I say no to this project because I don’t want to deal with the traffic nor do I want to have to look at it when it’s empty and abandoned. This is one of those behind the scenes deals where a few somebodies are making a whole lot of money at our expense. We should fight this and do everything we can to stop them from building this mall.

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Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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