LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska lawmakers are moving closer to repealing a law that allows counties to eradicate black-tailed prairie dogs on private property.

The measure won first-round approval on Friday with a 25-9 vote, even though it failed to advance earlier this year.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, says current law infringes on property rights and treats the rodents as an invasive species. Black-tailed prairie dogs are native to Nebraska and are considered an important to the region's ecological balance, but some ranchers view them as pests.

Chambers has worked for years to repeal the 2012 law, which passed when he was briefly forced out of office due to term limits.

Opponents say landowners need a way to protect their land from prairie dog invasions.