For Immediate Release: Monday, October 7, 2002
Contact: Scott Royder, Texas PEER, (512) 441-4941
SUIT FILED TO HALT PRAIRIE DOG EXTERMINATION
Conservation Groups Charge Lubbock Removal Plan is Illegal
Austin – A coalition of conservation groups today filed suit in Travis County
Superior Court to block a state-approved plan to destroy one of the largest
black-tailed prairie dog colonies in the Southwest. Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER), Defenders of Wildlife, The Humane Society of the United
States and others charge that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
(TCEQ) improperly approved a plan by the city of Lubbock to eradicate up to
50,000 prairie dogs in a misdirected effort to address the city’s growing
The colony on the Lubbock Land Application Site (LLAS) has been at the heart
of a statewide controversy since June, when TCEQ declared that prairie dogs
were a threat to groundwater underneath the site, and ordered their removal.
The city responded with a "compliance plan" featuring "chemical
and/or concussive control" to exterminate the colony.
The state’s own wildlife experts immediately condemned the plan. In September,
the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fired off a critical letter stating
that "TCEQ admitted having no evidence that prairie dogs were creating
problems at the LLAS," and asked the agency to "revise" its notice
of violation to the city. To date TCEQ has ignored these pleas and multiple
attempts by local conservation organizations to suggest alternative plans that
do not threaten prairie dog populations. The suit cites the complete absence
of scientific study to support the plan and demands that the prairie dog removal
Black-tailed prairie dogs are considered a candidate species for listing under
the Endangered Species Act. Three years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
decided that full threatened species protection for the dogs was "warranted
but precluded," meaning that, while scientific data justifies listing,
the Service did not have the resources to do so. Large scale eradication efforts
have imperiled the black-tailed prairie dog in Texas. Over 150 species of plants
and wildlife are closely associated with black-tailed prairie dogs, and many
of these are declining as well.
"We are filing this lawsuit because the City of Lubbock refuses to listen
to reason," said Juan Mancias, member of the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe, and
a plaintiff. "If we listen, we will recognize that when we take care of
the prairie dogs and all of their relations, then we will take care of the land,
the air, the water and all peoples."
"When the gas clears and there are 200,000 pounds of dead prairie dogs
in the ground, Lubbock’s water will still be polluted," said Texas
PEER director Scott Royder. "We hope that this lawsuit will force the city
to admit that the 14 million gallons of wastewater dumped daily is the true
Bill Snape, Defenders of Wildlife, Washington DC, (202)
"It is outrageous that the TCEQ would allow the mass carnage of ecologically
important prairie dogs on state lands that will inevitably lead to the deaths
of other wildlife species such as the imperiled burrowing owl," said Defenders
of Wildlife’s Vice President William Snape.
Defenders of Wildlife is a leading nonprofit conservation organization
recognized as one of the nation’s most progressive advocates for wildlife and
its habitat, with more than 430,000 members and supporters
Bette Stallman, Ph.D., The Humane Society of the United States,
Washington, DC, 301-258-3147
"Science, not speculation, should drive management actions intended to
reduce groundwater nitrate levels," commented Bette Stallman, a wildlife
scientist with the Humane Society of the United States.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has seven million members
and constituents. With active programs in companion animals, wildlife, animals
in research, and farm animals and sustainable agriculture, The HSUS works to
protect all animals through legislation, litigation, investigation, education,
advocacy and field work.
Jarid Manos, Great Plains Restoration Council, Ft. Worth,
TX, (817) 335-0122
"Prairie Dogs have been here for a million years," said Jarid Manos
of the Great Plains Restoration Council. "Like the buffalo and the antelope,
they have been driven to extinction and now are being scapegoated for problems
created by men."
Great Plains Restoration Council is a multiracial non-profit organization
building the Buffalo Commons by bringing the wild buffalo prairies back and
restoring healthy sustainable communities to the Great Plains, from the Indian
reservation to the prairie outback to the inner city and beyond.
Ellen Roots McBride, President, Llano Estacado Audubon
Lubbock, TX, (806) 785-1876
"Science protects us from the randomness of personal opinion. As affected
citizens, we insist science be the basis of regulatory decisions" said
Ellen McBride, president of the Llano Estacado Audubon Society.
The Llano Estacado Audubon Society’s mission is to conserve and restore
natural ecosystems – focusing on birds, other wildlife and habitat – for the
benefit of human heritage and the earth’s biological diversity.