City officials respond to prairie dog commotion

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Hundreds of people are upset with a new project at Kiwanis Park.

Jim Dockery, the Wichita Falls Deputy City Manager, said what once started with two prairie dogs 40 years ago has now turned into a big health concern after they escaped their containment area.

"They've encroached upon some of the neighbors that are living adjacent to the park," Dockery said. "They're starting to get over into the cemetery area and some of our ball field areas."

Therefore, the City Parks Department is building a 70,000 square foot fence.

"What we've done is we've built a new containment wall and it's five feet deep," Terry Points, Wichita Falls Parks Administrator said. "It's concrete and it's about 10 inches wide. It goes all the way around."

Their new home will be twice the size of the older one but many community members are not too happy with what they say is going on.

Many on social media claim the prairie dogs are being killed by workers who are running them over and collapsing their dens. Dockery said that's not exactly what's going on.

"With that big equipment they're going to have to run some of the mounds that are out there but that will have no effect on the animals," Dockery said. "They will wait until we are out of the area and they will burrow back up to the surface."

However, Dockery said some prairie dogs may be euthanized. He said, there are just too many of them to fit in the new home.

"We're saving as many as we can and we are going to provide a nice living habitat for them but ultimately we may have to do some of the carbon monoxide measures to take care of those that are unable to be moved to the containment area," Dockery said.

Their new home is expected to be finished by the end of this week or early next week.

The park will be closed on several occasions in the next week or so to gather the prairie dogs and bring them to their new home.

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