Frustrated landowners from near Ned Houk Park appealed Thursday night to the Clovis City Commission for help battling prairie dog destruction.
The landowners detailed the destruction the prairie dogs have inflicted on their pastures and cropland, telling the commission about how they are eating most of the grass, which complicates livestock grazing and creates erosion problems. They said the land is being pockmarked with burrows.
Landowner Bill Smith said years ago he had spent approximately $10,000 to eliminate the pests, but the prairie dogs have overrun his property again. He said eradicating the pests on his land alone won’t do any good because they’ll come over from the Ned Houk Park, which he said had a large population. He made it clear he felt the community needed to come together to eradicate the prairie dogs.
Clovis Mayor David Lansford said he would encourage city staff to move quickly and create a budget that will help fund the eradication of prairie dogs from Ned Houk Park.
The landowners agreed that using poison to destroy the rodents is the most effective means of managing them.
Smith suggested they use the pesticide Rozol, but according to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture’s website, Rozol can only used between Oct. 1 and March 15, so unless the eradication project happens quickly, another chemical may have to be used.
A number of the landowners expressed fears that animal rights groups would try to stop them.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services website ,the black tailed prairie dog, which inhabits eastern New Mexico, is neither threatened or endangered. The website estimated the population of these prairie dogs to be close to 24 million.
Lansford asked Smith and fellow landowner Glenn Eagle, who are licensed pesticide applicators, to work with city staff to create a plan to eradicate the prairie dogs from the park.
Commissioner Bobby Sandoval invited the landowners to present their case at the next Curry County Commission because this problem goes beyond the borders of Clovis, while Commissioner Sandra Taylor-Sawyer suggested that the city also plan for the future so that prairie dog populations at the park can be kept in check.