CLOVIS – After a emotional debate during a Clovis city commission meeting Thursday night, commissioners unanimously approved to conditionally allow Citizens for Prairie Dogs to relocate 200 to 300 prairie dogs to Mitchell County, Texas.
Commissioners voted 7-0; Sandra Taylor-Sawyer, who had participated in the meeting via conference call did not respond to the vote.
Commissioner Randy Crowder asked that five conditions be added to the motion.
Citizens for Prairie Dogs have until Feb. 1 to complete the task.
The relocation effort is limited to Potter Park, the Civic Center and Goodwin Lake Park.
The city reserves the right to manage prairie dogs in any way the city deems necessary.
A schedule must be provided to the city so that residents know what is happening at their parks.
Citizens of Prairie Dogs must obtain written approval from the Mitchell County, Texas, government.
The prairie dog dilemma has placed Clovis in the national spotlight in the past year. It started when the city poisoned hundreds of them at Ned Houk Park at the request of nearby farmers.
The commission passed an ordinance in September that deemed prairie dogs a public nuisance and requires property owners to destroy the animals if necessary.
At one point, Bold Visions Conservation’s website labeled Clovis, “the cruelest, most vicious town in America.”
If Joann Haddock, founder of Citizens for Prairie Dogs, can get permission from Mitchell County, the football-sized rodents will be relocated to the Maddin Prairie Preserve, which is owned by the Native Prairies Association of Texas. Haddock said her organization will pay for the relocation.
The city only needs to provide water to Haddock. The water is turned into a sudsy mixture to flush the prairie dogs out of their burrows.
Crowder asked Haddock if the Mitchell County government was OK with the prairie dog relocation. Haddock said she did not know. She said she was confused with how Texas county governments work.
City Manager Joe Thomas said he unsuccessfully attempted to find out if the Mitchell County government was OK with this operation.
“We want to continue to be good neighbors,” Crowder said.
“I want to make it clear that I am not OK with deporting prairie dogs for any reason,” Mayor David Lansford said. “These critters are destructive.”
He added that he does not believe that relocating 200-300 prairie dogs is going to do any good because it won’t fix Clovis’ prairie dog problem, and relocating them will only give other people problems.
A tearful Haddock said, “In 10 years I’ve never experienced this. What does it take? What does it take?”
Commissioner Chris Bryant answered, “The thing is we want to solve the problem and not pass it to our neighbors.” He reiterated that consent is needed from Mitchell County.
Haddock was upset and left the room twice during the prairie dog discussion.