Archive for Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kansas environmental groups sues EPA over prairie dog poison

September 30, 2009, 8:12 a.m. Updated September 30, 2009, 11:45 a.m.


— Two conservation groups have sued the Environmental Protection Agency for its decision to register pesticides that curtail prairie dogs, the main source of food for the endangered black-footed ferret.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., by Defenders of Wildlife and Audubon of Kansas, says the chemicals threaten other species, and that in issuing registrations for their use, the EPA is violating the federal Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and other federal laws.

The lawsuit claims the EPA failed to heed warnings from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that registrations of the chemicals chlorophacinone and diphacinone “be disapproved or rescinded because of known and potential impacts to wildlife.”

It seeks an injunction against the registration in 10 states of Rozol, which contains chlorophacinone, and the local use of Kaput-D, which contains diphacinone. The chemicals cause internal bleeding.

EPA spokesman Dale Kemery said the agency planned to release a federal register notice next week related to the lawsuit.

“We are treating this request as a petition to suspend this use of Rozol,” he said in an e-mail Tuesday. “The docket will include the risk assessments as well as letters from other parties expressing similar concerns.”

Kemery said the EPA issued a similar notice about Kaput-D earlier this month.

“Once we receive and evaluate public comment on these notices, we will determine the future course of action,” he said.

The lawsuit, filed Sept. 23, takes issue with EPA’s decision in May to approve the use of Rozol to target black-tailed prairie dogs in Kansas, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.

“According to FWS, use of these rodenticides in these states could damage ferret recovery efforts and impact other federally-protected species,” the lawsuit said.

According to the lawsuit, the Fish and Wildlife Service requested that the EPA consult with it over use of both Rozol and Kaput-D “because the range of the black-tailed prairie dog overlaps with the black-footed ferret, one of the most critically endangered mammals in the United States.”

In a letter dated Sept. 8, Bryan Arroyo, the assistant director for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Division of Fisheries and Habitat Conservation, told the EPA that his agency recommended the EPA withdraw its registration for Rozol and withhold registration for Kaput “until EPA completes a formal consultation with the Service on the use of these rodenticides to control black-tailed prairie dogs.”

Valerie Fellows, a Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman, said Tuesday that consultation has not occurred.

Arroyo said the agency earlier determined that prairie dog poisoning was a “major factor in the decline of the ferrets, through both decline of the prairie dogs and inadvertent poisoning of ferrets.”

He also said the agency was “especially concerned about potential mortality of migratory raptors due to the use of Rozol and Kaput.”

The black-footed ferret relies on prairie dogs for survival, said Ron Klataske, executive director of Audubon of Kansas.

“You have to have some places with prairie dogs to have ferrets,” he said.

Klataske said his group prefers the use of zinc phosphide to control prairie dog populations, which can compete with livestock for forage, because it “doesn’t result in a chain-reaction secondary poisoning.”

Black-footed ferrets were thought to be extinct until 1981, when a colony was found in Wyoming. The species has since been reintroduced in several western and midwestern states.

Pete Gober, who coordinates black-footed ferret recovery efforts for the Fish and Wildlife Service, said there are about 500 breeding black-footed ferret adults in about 18 sites in North America. The goal is to have about 3,000 of them scattererd across 30 sites, he said.


tolawdjk 8 years, 8 months ago

The sollution here is pretty simple.

Each rodenticide/pesticide has to be labeled and approved in ever state it is used in. For example, it is illegal to use a pesticide labeled for approved use in Colorado in Kansas if the label does not expliciitly grant usage in Kansas. The packageing of the CO and KS material can be 100% identicle, but the label is the law.

So on the KS one, you ban usage within the counties where ferrets are known to exist. I think its only in a few areas around Sharon Springs, although that might have need a pretty damn big dog town to support ferrets. Then, if any usage is determined in that area, you slap the applicator with multiple violations of federal law, and if you determine that the product used wasn't approved for use in the state it was used in, you slap the reseller with multiple violations as well.

ralphralph 8 years, 7 months ago

For those of you from Johnson County, prairie dogs are not really dogs. They are, in fact, rodents -- like rats, but a bit more cuddly. They burrow and tunnel and cause all kinds of problems (like broken legs) for hooved mammals on the surface, be they cattle and horses, or deer and elk. Left unchecked, they breed like ... well, like rodents, and spread their colonies. You have to bring in predators (see, e.g., ferrets) or you have to kill them off, or they will take over the world from beneath. This seems to be a fight over the best way of killing them off, which is an improvement from having fights over whether to kill them off. Ah, progress.

supertrampofkansas 8 years, 7 months ago


That broken leg story is a myth. Multiple studies have shown that this is extremely rare since the prairie dogs build mounds around the holes and cattle and other hooved mammals simply walk around these mounds. I have talked to many ranchers in Kansas who have said this is just a BS statement that they will use to their benefit. None of them has ever had this actually happen to their cattle. The ranchers just don't like the pesky little varmints.

Me, I'm more annoyed and with those obnoxious rodents with big bushy tails (aka squirrels).

ralphralph 8 years, 7 months ago

I, too, am tired of the bushy tailed ones eating all the good stuff out of my "squirrel-proof" (hah!) bird feeders.

ralphralph 8 years, 7 months ago

btw ... there used to be a "little" prairie dog town in Hutchinson, just east of the mall, within the circle road. Last time I was out there, they had tunnelled under the road and the town was spreading toward Buhler. Prairie Dog Suburban Sprawl.

mdrndgtl 8 years, 7 months ago

This is very disturbing news. I rarely take my dogs outside the city limits but each summer I like to take them beyond and let them stretch their legs. I wish they would label the prairies that could pose as a threat to my animals. I believe there will be quite a few pet owners upset about this.

riverdrifter 8 years, 7 months ago

What, like 99.5% of dog towns have been wiped out? Marioni, the farmer/ranchers won't just go for ammunition. They just want them gone. No matter what. I used to shoot them, but no more.

Ron Holzwarth 8 years, 7 months ago

In western Kansas, prairie dogs are a serious problem.

1) My mother sprained her ankle in a prairie dog hole a few years back.

2) Rattlesnakes use their burrows for winter lairs. A rattlesnake needs to spend the winter below the freeze line, and a prairie dog burrow is perfect for that. Plus, prairie dog pups are perfect food for rattlesnakes. That's why, where there are a lot of prairie dogs, there are a lot of rattlesnakes.

3) Another problem we face is that prairie dog mounds really look like hell in cemeteries. You can just imagine what they are doing inside the caskets to the bodies of MY relatives. This is NOT a joke, it is a serious problem.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.