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Prairie Dogs May Be Relocated To Former Nuclear Weapons Facility

By Karen Morfitt

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)- Around 300 prairie dogs may be relocated from an area in Longmont to the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge.

Susan Sommers is one of several animal activists with prairie protection Colorado who fought for the move.

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"If they are not relocated to Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge these prairie dogs will be exterminated," Sommers said.

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Despite the property, home to a nuclear weapons production facility at one time, Sommers says the location for these busy burrowing animals is ideal.

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"Where these prairie dogs would be relocated is a buffer zone, it's not the core area that is closed to the public. This is an approved by Colorado Department of Public Health by the EPA and the Department of Energy as being safe to support wildlife," she said.

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CBS4's Karen Morfitt interviews Susan Sommers (credit: CBS)

However, not everyone agrees. Leroy Moore with Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice has been researching the site for more than 30 years.

"It makes a bad problem worse", he said, "They will bring up plutonium and it will blow on to the refuge."

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Moore believes moving the animals into contaminated soil is dangerous.

"There's no reason in the world why they should put prairie dogs on that site we don't know what will happen to the prairie dogs themselves but they will endanger humans," he said.

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CBS4's Karen Morfitt interviews Leroy Moore with Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice (credit: CBS)

The history is no secret to Sommers who says they are following the lead of U.S. Fish and Wildlife who approved the area for public use last year.

"I may be an activist but I'm also an environmentalist and I would never do anything to jeopardize these animals ever and the thought that we would do something like that is crazy. Nor would we do anything that we felt jeopardize the general public," said Sommers.

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Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.


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