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Group Trying To Save Prairie Dogs In Aurora's Murphy Creek Neighborhood

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) - There's a passionate fight for wildlife in an Aurora subdivision. Prairie dogs are slated for extermination but activists want them relocated.

Wildlife advocates say the prairie dogs who call grassland in the Murphy Creek neighborhood home are essential to maintaining the ecosystem. Opponents say they are a hazard.

Michaela "Michelle" Hinerman is among area residents fighting to save the prairie dogs.

"When they're poisoned to death there's a five-day brutal bleed out of every animal and species that comes in contact with that poisoning," Hinerman said.

The subdivision's board of trustees voted unanimously to exterminate the population.

Prairie Dog
(credit: CBS)

"I think they should probably be exterminated. I mean, they make a lot of noise, and they're pretty annoying," a Murphy Creek resident said.

The board based its decision in part on the safety of its residents.

"Damage to district property, our community's value, human safety from accidents caused by holes, and potential human health concerns for disease sometimes found in prairie dog colonies," a board member said at a meeting on the issue.

Hinerman disagrees.

"As long as they're walking on the sidewalk, how can they step in a hole and break their legs? It just makes no sense," she said.

Activists collected a stack of petitions with more than 85,000 signatures urging the board to relocate the rodents instead of killing them.

"I find it bizarre that people move here, and they move to the prairies, and they come to Colorado, and they're bothered by this beautiful Colorado keystone species. It's sad," Hinerman said.

The advocate group Wildlands Defense told CBS4 they will continue to ask for the prairie dogs to be relocated. They say if it's a matter of money, they're willing to raise the funds.

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