Prairie Dog Ordinance Revisited by Longmont City Council

[Prairie dog in a rim crater burrow entrance - Longmont Observer/Christi Yoder]

At the May 28, Longmont City Council meeting, Council member Tim Waters asked for the prairie dog regulations back to council due to some unintended consequences residents and local businesses had voiced to him.

The underlining concern from the community is that there is not a differentiation between developed and undeveloped property in the ordinance.

In the case of a resident looking to maintain their property, a 14-day notice has to be issued before that resident can exterminate the prairie dogs. This is true for locations that are less than an acre and have less than 25 prairie dogs living on it.

In the case of a local daycare facility who is experiencing problems with prairie dogs, a minimum of 90 days notice has to be given before the prairie dogs can be tended to. This is because the property is over an acre and has an estimate of over 25 prairie dogs on-site.

The parents of the children attending this facility are pressing its director to do something about the animals, because they are concerned with the health and well-being of their children.

City staff asked for council’s direction as to what amendments, if any, should be made to O-2019-01.

Mayor Brian Bagley began discussion with two simple questions: 1) What is the issue/problem with the prairie dog ordinance? and 2) What is staff’s proposed solution?

Harold Dominguez, City Manager, and Don Burchett, Planning Manager, identified that the main two things needing to be addressed right away are: the wait times for exterminating the prairie dogs and eliminating the notifications requirements if the property owner uses humane methods.

Dominguez also identified that the topic of fencing the prairie dogs out of properties would need to be addressed, but proposed that it happen at a later date and after more research into the topic.

Council directed staff to draft an amendment to the ordinance that will exempt residences and commercial properties in Longmont from the permitting process time-lines.

Council also directed city staff to bring back options for assigning responsibility of fencing in regards to prairie dog containment and the legalities associated with that.

Bagley stressed that he wanted staff to suggest a solution to all the prairie dog problems and to bring those suggestions before council again. He emphasized that council does not know anything about prairie dogs and the suggestions given by staff will be reviewed and voted on by council.

City staff will work towards creating amendments that will address all of the issues surrounding prairie dogs and bring that back to a future city council meeting for a vote.

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