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Parker Prairie Dogs Get A New Home -- At Rocky Flats

(CBS4) - Hundreds of prairie dogs will soon be adjusting to their new homes at the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge. Some of those animals transferred on Wednesday.

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The prairie dogs are being relocated from a construction project in Parker to their new home in the refuge. High temperatures are slowing the effort down, since prairie dogs will stay underground to avoid the heat.

Parker resident Mark Snyder is behind the effort. He said his advocacy for the prairie dogs started when developers bought the land next to his condo in Parker's Stroh Ranch neighborhood.

"So I thought they were safe for a while. Then one day I woke up to the fence," Snyder said. "When a bulldozer comes into a plot of land, they don't leave. That's why they're killed during development."

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After months of fundraising and applying for permits, Snyder and other volunteers are now in the process relocating the colony of nearly 300.

"You just can't put them in a field and expect them to do well," said Amy Ackerman, program manager with the Prairie Dog Coalition of the Humane Society of the United States. "They need somewhere safe from predators and then they can do their thing and build new burrows."

It's a tedious task of trapping each prairie dog in Parker. The next step is introducing them to their new burrows, made with corrugated tubing, at the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge.

"Until the animals move from that colony to this new land it's never a done deal, so I am more than elated about this," Snyder said.

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He'll be even more elated when he comes back next year and sees prairie dog pups who are well adjusted to their new home.

"That means they won't die off. This species is protected as far as this plot of land is concerned," he said. "That brings me hope. That is what I'm most excited about."

At Rocky Flats, there used to be 2,500 acres of prairie dog habitat. Now there's only about 10.

Snyder and the other volunteers have until Aug. 1 to bring the remaining prairie dogs to the new site.


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