For Immediate Release: Wednesday, September 18, 2002
Contact: Scott Royder, TX PEER, (512) 441-4941
Jill Haukus, Llano Estacado Audubon Society (806) 797-2012
STATE WILDLIFE AGENCY BLASTS PRAIRIE DOG REMOVAL
TCEQ Misled Public, Admitted it Lacks Evidence Dogs Cause Contamination
Lubbock, TX — State regulators “admitted having no evidence” that prairie dogs contribute to groundwater contamination, according to a strongly-worded letter from a Texas Parks and Wildlife official released today by Texas Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Texas PEER). The letter harshly criticizes a plan by the city of Lubbock and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to destroy one of the largest black-tailed prairie dog colonies in the Southwest in the name of watershed protection, calling it “unacceptable.”
The colony on the Lubbock Land Application Site has been at the center of a statewide controversy since June, when the TCEQ (formerly Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission) declared that prairie dogs were a threat to groundwater underneath the site, and ordered their removal. TCEQ came under early criticism from conservation groups for not backing up the contention with any scientific evidence. The TPWD letter backs up the conservationists’ charges and requests that TCEQ “revise” its orders requiring the city to remove the dogs.
In an unusual public blast, the wildlife agency letter takes its sister agency to task on a number of fronts, saying the removal plan:
· Ignores the effects of cattle grazing on the site in its rush to blame the prairie dogs;
· Threatens the survival of federally protected burrowing owls; and
· Increases the likelihood that prairie dogs will be added to the list of federal threatened and endangered species.
“The TCEQ is guilty of professional malpractice,” stated Texas PEER Director Scott Royder. “Fortunately, TPWD is trying to bring some sanity to this crazy situation. Their letter has just given the City of Lubbock at least three good reasons to leave the prairie dogs alone.”
"The TCEQ and the City of Lubbock continue to ignore all communication and offered assistance from the scientific community in regard to prairie dogs,” said Jill Haukos, Conservation Chair of the Llano Estacado Audubon Society.
A copy of the TPWD letter and related material available on request.