June 21, 2017
When Julie Scheneman moved to Evans with her family four years ago, she immediately noticed prairie dogs getting uncomfortably close to homes in the area. And she wasn’t the only one.
“The homeowners over in that area said that (the prairie dogs) would come into their garages and yards. One of the homeowners worried about her children when outside playing, so she put up a fence to help to keep them out,” Scheneman said.
On Monday night, the Evans City Council took a step toward eliminating the wild rodents. They passed the first reading of an ordinance that defines prairie dogs as a nuisance, and requiring property owners to remove them.
The ordinance identifies one burrow per 900 square feet as the maximum density for prairie dogs and a setback of 25 feet from any public street or street-adjacent sidewalk. Any property owners with prairie dog burrows in violation of the new ordinance would be instructed to remove or eliminate the infestation or encroachment.
The ordinance passed on first reading unanimously, with Mayor John Morris absent. The ordinance still needs to pass a second reading at the city council meeting on July 18. If it passes, property owners would have 30 days before receiving notices about any violations.
Scheneman said she’s not entirely sure whether the ordinance will be an appropriate solution, but she’s hopeful it will work. She said she worries about the prairie dogs not only causing property damage but also potentially spreading diseases. Weld Department of Health spokesman Eric Aakko said people should keep their distance.
“They can carry fleas. So, like our message with all wild animals, you shouldn’t touch them or handle them,” he said. “They could be carrying other diseases. It’s just best to let the wild animals be wild animals and leave them alone.”