Seabury, Commissioners on proposed prairie dog relocation
Sheree Seabury saw the sign posted in Longmont, Colo., at the intersection of WCR 1 and Ken Pratt Blvd., by a developer seeking a new site for the prairie dog colony on the future build site. It was then Seabury said she began the process of locating and purchasing land within Weld County where she could, pending approval from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, relocate the colony.
Though no decision has been made with regard to Seabury’s CPW application to relocate prairie dogs from Longmont to her 316-acre property in Briggsdale, Colo., the nearby landowners are waiting for an announcement from CPW.
Seabury said the prairie dogs are in no way the hold up, but rather the developer’s purchase of the property at WCR 1 and Ken Pratt Blvd. Seabury said the prairie dogs cannot be relocated according to best practice and Longmont City Ordinance from April 1 through June, when prairie dogs and their offspring leave the burrows.
Seabury said an updated management plan was sent after the first of the year to CPW and the surrounding landowners to the release site. She said she has been criticized for excluding scientific data and other information but said the CPW application didn’t require it and it wasn’t the place for it.
Advocates for the Preservation of Prairie Wildlife, she said, is not a nonprofit and is not registered with the state. It is a group of people who care about the preservation, specifically of prairie dogs, but also of other prairie wildlife.
“Just so you know, I purchased the land myself, I paid cash for it, I have the means to do what has to be done to basically mitigate the prairie dogs from going on the ranchers’ property and I will move forward with that if this is approved by CPW,” she said.
Seabury said she has met and visited with Larry and Jean Croissant and the interactions have been cordial, though they have been clear that they don’t want the prairie dogs, which she said she totally understands, However, she said a neighboring ranch is covered with prairie dogs and he is paying for expensive extermination efforts to control them, something she said will not be allowed from her property.
NO DIRECT CONTACT
One point of frustration for Seabury has been the lack of direct communication from people who oppose the relocation. The group she purchased the property from, WCR89 Group, LLC, sent the CPW a letter of opposition but never reached out to her directly.
“Their comment that I didn’t tell them my plan for the land, that’s not my responsibility,” she said. “I can buy land for whatever reason I want. When you buy a house, you don’t tell that seller what you’re going to do with the house. They never asked, and of course I wasn’t going to say.”
One item she said she included in her CPW permit was evidence from ranchers who coexist with prairie dogs.
“There are ranchers — big ranchers — that have allowed prairie dogs to coexist on their ranch with the cattle and the horses and bison or whatever,” she said. “They’re happy because it’s bringing in wildlife, they’re trying not to kill everything, they’re letting nature take place, and they’re getting some enjoyment out of the bald eagles and the wildlife coming back because there are so many species that rely on the prairie dog on food and for survival.”
The most frustrating part of this fight for Seabury, she said, is the ranchers’ claim that prairie dogs graze the grass and lead to wind erosion.
“Let me tell you, cattle denude the prairie faster than anything,” she said. “They denude the rainforest, they have destroyed the environment to the worst of the worst, so don’t tell me a few prairie dogs grazing are causing denuded erosion. In fact, they help with erosion, they help with fire barriers, they help with putting nutrients back in the soil.”
Seabury said she wants to befriend surrounding landowners and wants them to understand the benefits of the prairie dogs and her commitment to keep them within the boundaries of her property.
“It’s my feeling that the ranchers, in this case ranchers not so much farmers, don’t want to coexist with anything, not a coyote, not a prairie dog,” she said. “It’s their cattle that they love and adore and then send to a slaughterhouse, that one I struggle with, too. How can you love and adore these animals and… it’s all about money.”
For now, Seabury said the prairie dogs cannot be moved but she is concerned about the lack of food available to them on the Longmont trap site. She said she asked the landowner for permission to feed them to support them until she can move them, but the request was denied.
Despite Seabury’s management plan and her willingness to meet, the Weld County Board of Commissioners remains opposed to the relocation. According to statute, commissioners can stop a relocation from outside the county but not from within the county.
“In county, the CPW can make that determination,” said Mike Freeman, Weld County Commissioner. “The difference is the CPW has always gone along with the recommendation of the county commissioners, and they have two letters from us stating that we are 100% opposed to this relocation. In the past, they’ve always followed that though I know they’re getting pressure from the Polis Administration to do it anyway.”
The Board of Commissioners has been working with the Weld County attorney, preparing for the possibility that CPW will not honor their recommendations. Freeman, whose district includes the Briggsdale area, has been a part of the conversation since October of 2021.
“I’m not okay with any procedure that allows this to happen,” he said. “There’s absolutely no good reason to be moving prairie dogs somewhere else. I’m somebody who has farmed and ranched my whole life — I’ve been poisoning prairie dogs on our two or three sections of pastures since I was 10 years old. I know the issue with these things and it’s not something the Weld County Commissioners will be on board with.”
The year kicked off with a cattle inventory estimated to be down 2%, thanks to a 2021 calf crop down 2.3% from the previous year, due largely to the pressures brought on by drought and…
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User