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South Dakota rancher wins fight over prairie dog mitigation

September 17, 2018

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota rancher won a battle with a local weed and pest board that wanted to use poison gas to reduce the prairie dog population on her property.

The Fall River County Weed and Pest Board told Susan Henderson in a letter last month that it would cease remedial efforts, The Rapid City Journal reported .

“I am delighted I was able to save the burrowing owls, eagles and other wildlife,” said Henderson, whose ranch spreads out east of Provo. “Had I allowed this poisoning and paid the $8,900-plus the weed and pest board demanded, I would have been liable for federal fines.”

Henderson sued the pest board in April because she was worried the poison would kill migrating burrowing owls or harm eagles nesting nearby. She won a court request in May that placed an injunction preventing the board from taking action and allowed her to hire a shooter to spend the summer reducing the prairie dog population.

The board and a state Department of Agriculture officer reviewed the pasture last month. The review found that the population has been significantly reduced, said Nina Steinmetz, the weed and pest board supervisor.

“This count concluded that an 80 percent reduction was achieved,” Steinmetz wrote in the letter.

A December 2017 inspection of three sites on Henderson’s land counted an average of 14 dogs over a duration of 10 to 15 minutes at each site. That number was down to one rodent at all three sites in August, officials said.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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