City of Lawton to pay state fine related to prairie dog management

LAWTON, OK (TNN) - The Lawton City Council approved paying of a fine to the State of Oklahoma after a 2018 investigation into the city’s practice of controlling the prairie dog population.

According to court documents, the state started the inspection on February 5, 2018. Inspectors were looking into the use of Rozol prairie dog bait at Elmer Thomas Park and at a vacant lot at the corner of 2nd and Ferris during their 2017 Prairie Dog Management Plan which was initiated in November 2017.

In court filings dated July 6, 2018, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry say they found the city was violating five Oklahoma Agricultural Codes and/or rules.

Those violations included:

- Not having a certified applicator or service technician on site at each pesticide application job.

- Not having the storage area for pesticides clearly marked.

- Using a pesticide in a manner inconsistent with the label instructions.

- Failure to maintain records of pesticide applications.

- Not being licensed in a category that applies to the control of Prairie Dogs in Elmer Thomas Park, such as Ornamental and Turf or Bird and Vertebrate Animal.

The city was accused of using 1/3 cup of Rozol per prairie dog “burrow” instead of 1/4 cup per the manufacture instructions on the product. The city also allegedly did not document two separate occasions when they applied the pesticides in late January and early February.

State authorities fined the city $500 per violation, totaling $2,500. A preliminary court date was set for August and state officials tell us another is scheduled for Thursday.

The City of Lawton sent us the following statement regarding the state investigation:

A Settlement Agreement and Consent Order between the City of Lawton and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, is outlined in the January 8 Lawton City Council agenda. The instances detailed in the agenda item took place in 2017. The City of Lawton is committed to lawful pesticide application and practices, and the continual training and professional development of groundskeepers who oversee its administration.

Approximately 80 acres of land at Elmer Thomas Park is treated to control rodent population and migration for citizens each year. The purpose of this program is to protect the health and safety of our citizens, as well as to maintain a healthy and viable prairie dog population for years to come.

UPDATE 4:14 p.m. - The statement from the COL has been added to the story

Copyright 2019 Texoma News Network. All rights reserved.