Advocates push for relocation of prairie dogs

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Several prairie dog supporters made their voices heard during Tuesday's Wichita Falls city council meeting on a new project at Kiwanis Park.

"Next time they ask me, they want to go, and they go and they see that most of the prairie dogs are gone, what am I supposed to tell them?" an advocate asked during public comments.

Mayor Stephen Santellana along with council members listened closely to what advocates had to say regarding the prairie dogs in Kiwanis Park.

"I want to make sure that we citizens can help you, the Council and Mayor, to pursue the relocation of the excess prairie dogs," another advocate said. "Especially now that so many eyes are upon our city."

However, Mayor Santellana said there was a lot of information that needs to be cleared up.

"There have been people that are saying we have already eradicated the population," Mayor Santellana said. "That we already started euthanizing them, and that we were not going to have any citizen input, and that we were just going to do what we wanted. I told them that's not true."

Early this month we learned the city was building a new containment area, which is now complete, for the hundreds of prairie dogs roaming around the park.

After city officials said some euthanasia may be needed due to all of them not fitting in their new home, community members are asking the city to relocate them.

"I understand other towns such as San Angelo have recently made a similar decision that we are asking of you," an advocate said. "And we do have someone in mind who has work for Texas Parks and Wildlife on similar matters and other cities as well. The expenditure of such solution compared to what is already spent to this park on this new enclosure would be politically wise and would make a lot of people happy at a relatively little cost."

Mayor Santellana said the city is still in the planning stages, but if groups don't come forward to help relocate the prairie dogs they will be left with fewer options.

"If they come forward, I think we can probably get this resolved together," Mayor Santellana said. "If not, we have to look at every solution. We have to think about the citizens of Wichita Falls."

Wichita Falls Parks Administrator Terry Points said as of right now the plan is to relocate the prairie dogs in June.

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