By Melissa Garcia
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – As new neighborhoods pop up along the Front Range, some residents complain that people are pushing out the prairie dogs. That appeared to be the case in one Green Valley Ranch subdivision under construction.
General contractor Murray and Stafford is building on the northeast corner of 38th Avenue and Tower Road. Construction preparation in the dirt field in Aurora has pushed the prairie dogs out which used to live in the once brush landscape.
“The prairie dogs that didn’t get buried alive got scurried out here to the sidewalk. Now they’ve got a piece of land between the sidewalk and the street for them to burrow and for them to live. And so technically, they have nowhere to go,” said DeAnn Mazzuca, a Colorado native and resident of Green Valley Ranch.
The burrowing animal that is native to North American grasslands is a common sight across the state. Some see the ground animals as pests, while others see them as a vital part of our ecosystem.
A Colorado Parks and Wildlife survey found that black-tailed prairie dogs fill more than 500,000 acres on the Eastern Plains. The habitat is shrinking.
Mazzuca believes this indigenous species belongs where subdivisions and other developments are going up.
“Put a little bit of money aside so that they can build a habitat next to the development. The people pay a little more a year, and then they are able to keep the prairie dogs and everybody lives side by side and harmoniously,” Mazzuca told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia.
She wants to see them relocated or given a special space of their own, rather than falling at the mercy of developers.
“Why aren’t they protected? Why are (developers) allowed to just go in and plow?” she asked.
CBS4 placed calls Tuesday to the construction company, the city of Aurora, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife but had not heard back from them as of the writing of this article.
In July in Lafayette, prairie dog activists worked together to get a colony released from traps.